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US, Russia clash over UN's aid lifeline to Syria

Ahead of the vote, UN humanitarian leaders are urging the Security Council to keep open “any and all avenues” to deliver aid to Syrians in need.
A convoy transporting humanitarian aid crosses into Syria from Turkey through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing on Jan. 18, 2022.

WASHINGTON — Continued aid for several million Syrians hangs in the balance, as the United States and Russia gear up for another showdown at the United Nations Security Council over the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the war-torn country.

The 15-member body has until July 10 to renew the UN's mandate for an operation that permits food, fuel and other supplies to be sent into parts of Syria that are outside the control of President Bashar al-Assad, whose government has a long history of weaponizing aid. Under the current Security Council resolution, the United Nations and its partners reach 2.7 million people in northwest Syria’s Idlib and northern Aleppo provinces each month. 

The cross-border aid mechanism that began in 2014 originally set up four border crossings — two in Turkey, one in Jordan and one in Iraq — through which international aid could be delivered without Damascus’ permission.

Syria’s top ally Russia sees the humanitarian mission as a violation of Syrian sovereignty, and has in recent years used its veto power on the Security Council to force votes that have eliminated all but the Bab al-Hawa crossing on the Turkish border. 

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