The United Nations is poised to resume critical aid deliveries into opposition-held northwestern Syria after the Syrian government and the UN reached a deal to revive the humanitarian pipeline for six months. The surprise agreement announced late Tuesday is widely seen as a win for President Bashar al-Assad as he seeks, with the Kremlin’s backing, to shed his pariah status and make a comeback on the world stage.
The agreement allows for deliveries via the Bab al-Salama and al-Rai crossings from Turkey into areas that are occupied by the Turkish military and their Sunni rebel allies, as well as via Bab al-Hawa, the UN said.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres welcomed what his deputy spokesperson, Farhan Haq, called the “understanding” without revealing any of its details.
UN deliveries from Turkey via the Bab al-Hawa crossing ceased in July after Russia vetoed the extension of a UN Security Council mandate for the operation on which millions of displaced Syrians sheltering in the area rely. Russia, Assad's top patron alongside Iran, has long argued that the UN’s cross-border aid scheme is a violation of Syrian sovereignty and that assistance should be channeled from within the country.