(Photo credit: Hawar News Agency)
The Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) announced on 16 February the withdrawal of an aid convoy which, for over a week, has been held up at the Umm Jloud border-crossing that links the areas of the AANES to the areas of the Turkish-backed opposition.
The aid convoy, sent by the Kurdish administration to the areas of Turkish influence, has been held up at the Umm Jloud crossing since 8 February due to the lack of approval for its entry from militant factions. The convoy consists of 30 tankers of fuel.
“Unfortunately, after the passage of more than seven days since the rejection of our support to the earthquake-affected people, we will withdraw the aid convoy that was waiting at the Umm Jloud crossing and was prepared to enter the affected areas in Syria’s northwest,” Sadiq Muhammad al-Khalaf, co-chair of the Fuel Directorate in the AANES, said in a statement.
“The convoy retreated because of the insistence of Turkiye and its mercenaries to politicize humanitarian issues at the expense of the helpless victims,” he added.
The extremist opposition has a long history of stealing or misappropriating humanitarian aid. Since the earthquake struck, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Turkish-backed factions have been heavily politicizing relief efforts for their own gain.
Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar reported on 17 February that at the same time, there had been a dispute between Damascus and Kurdish authorities after the AANES sent an aid convoy. The convoy consisted of 100 fuel tankers and was bound for government-held territory in Aleppo, but got held up for days at the Al-Tahya crossing.
According to the newspaper, the AANES and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) insisted that the aid distribution be limited to the predominantly Kurdish Ashrafieh and Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhoods of Aleppo, which according to sources, are the least affected neighborhoods in the governorate. However, after the dispute was resolved and the AANES “canceled its conditions,” it was agreed that 40 tankers would be sent to Sheikh Maqsoud and Ashrafieh, while 60 would be distributed among the other neighborhoods of Aleppo. The 100 tankers entered government-held territory on 15 February.
Al-Akhbar’s sources accused the AANES and SDF of “delaying the entry of this convoy” until it became clear what the “American position” was regarding this move.
“They were allowed to enter only after the Americans declared that they did not oppose the arrival of aid … to the various regions of Syria,” the sources added.