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Russia says all humanitarian aid to Syria should be delivered through government

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russia's special envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev (C) is answering reporters’ questions on the sidelines of the 16th international meeting on the Syria conflict within Astana Format, in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan, on July 8, 2021. (Photo by SANA)

Russia says all humanitarian aid to war-ravaged Syria should be delivered through the central government in Damascus, rejecting the so-called “cross-border” aid delivery mechanism.

The remarks were made by Russia's special envoy on Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, who headed the Russian delegation to the 16th international meeting on the Syria conflict within Astana Format, Syria’s official SANA news agency said Thursday. 

The meeting was held recently in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan.

“We reject prolonging the so-called ‘cross-border aid delivery mechanism’ in Syria,” he said during a press conference after the meeting, stressing that all humanitarian assistance should be delivered to the Syrian state to support the reconstruction process.

Back in 2014, the UN Security Council for the first time authorized cross-border aid operations into Syria at four points, namely Bab al-Hawa between Turkey and Syria’s northwest, Bab al-Salam between Turkey and northern Syria, al-Ramtha near the Jordanian border, and al-Yaroubia on the northeast frontier with Iraq.

Last July, the Security Council restricted access to only Bab al-Hawa following opposition from China and Russia.

The mandate for the Bab al-Hawa crossing will end on July 10.

Moscow has time and again criticized the cross-border aid delivery, stressing that humanitarian assistance should be delivered across the conflict lines within the Arab country in a bid to reinforce the Syrian government’s sovereignty over the entire country.

Syria has adopted new mechanisms and initiatives to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need across the country. Furthermore, it has welcomed all previous efforts to help the Arab country reduce the humanitarian burden on its people.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Lavrentiev emphasized the necessity to continue combating foreign-backed terrorism in Syria until it is completely eliminated, in addition to supporting efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in the Arab country.

Asked about the role of the US and Turkish forces in Syria in increasing the suffering of the Syrians through “supporting terrorism and plundering” Syrian resources, the Russian envoy said on Thursday that “we reject plundering Syria’s resources as they belong to the Syrian people”, SANA added.

Humanitarian situation 

On the sidelines of the meeting, Lavrentiev stressed the necessity of improving the humanitarian situation in Syria, saying this should be one of the international community’s priorities.

The humanitarian assistance, he said, should be comprehensive and not limited to food only, stressing that most of this aid should be directed toward the implementation of various projects of vital importance, such as building schools, hospitals, and other projects, SANA reported.

On Wednesday, the 16th international meeting of the Astana Format started.

Lavrentiev said the next meeting of the Constitutional Discussion Committee of Syria might be held later this summer.

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