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How Syria's Assad is using aid access to hasten normalization

Experts say Syria's proposal to coordinate UN aid delivery is an attempt to cast itself as a constructive partner at a time when the region is bringing Bashar al-Assad in from the cold.
Syria aid

WASHINGTON —  The United States and its partners are closely watching negotiations between United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths and the Syrian government over continued aid access, weeks after Russia blocked the renewal of a near-decade-long humanitarian operation in northwest Syria. 

"We are prepared to return to the [Security] Council if the UN cannot work out some operation that makes sense to continue this life-saving aid," a senior administration official told Al-Monitor. 

As first reported by Al-Monitor, the Syrian government told UN Security Council members in mid-July that it would grant the UN "permission" to use a border crossing with Turkey to deliver humanitarian assistance for the next six months. It stipulated the aid must be delivered "in full cooperation and coordination" with the Syrian government.

Experts quickly warned that the Syrian government, given its track record, could divert or steal aid destined for rebel areas in northwest Syria. 

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