ICRC official says aid convoy entered besieged Syrian town

International Committee for Red Cross official says aid convoy has entered besieged Syrian town of Moadamiyeh

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A humanitarian aid convoy consisting of the Red Cross and Syrian Arab Red Crescent wait to deliver aid at the entrance of the opposition-held town of Mouadamiya, southwest of Damascus, Syria on February 3, 2016

Spokesman for the International Committee for the Red Cross Pawel Krzysiek said on Wednesday that an aid convoy entered the besieged opposition-held town of Moadamiyeh, southwest of the Syrian capital.

"We entered with medical aid to Moadimayat al-Sham and we are distributing food aid in the buffer zone" between regime and rebel forces, Pawel Krzysiek, spokesman in Damascus of the International Committee of the Red Cross, told AFP.

Krzysiek reported that 10 trucks carrying food, medicine and medical equipment were set to arrive at Moadamiyeh later in the day.

It is the second humanitarian aid delivery to opposition-held areas near Damascus in many days.

The humanitarian crisis in the town, which is located about 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) southwest of Damascus, worsened toward the end of 2015 after the Syrian regime blocked off the last access point. According to opposition activists and residents, there are dozens of cases of severe malnutrition in the town.

Krzysiek said on Tuesday that 14 trucks of aid were also delivered to the besieged rebel suburb of al Tal, on the outskirts of Damascus.

The aid delivery appeared to be a confidence building gesture on the part of the government after UN-mediated indirect peace talks got off to a rocky start in Geneva this week.

The opposition demanded that aid be allowed into 18 besieged areas throughout the country and that Syrian and Russian forces stop the bombing of opposition-held areas ahead of the talks, which officially started on Monday.

However, the opposition rejected the deliveries and demanded an end to the bombing of civilians so that Geneva talks could go forward.

Senior opposition figure George Sabra said that the aid heading to Moadamiyeh is inadequate.

Sabra added that Riad Hijab, head of the opposition's High Negotiations Committee, will arrive in Geneva later on Wednesday to discuss whether to continue or leave the indirect peace talks.

"We should take a decision in the coming two days," Sabra said.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura has been shuttled between the Syrian regime and opposition delegations in Geneva. He formally announced on Monday the start of what he calls “proximity talks” between two sides, which would have the two delegations seated in separate rooms.

The Geneva talks, the first UN-mediated meeting in two years, are aimed at ending the nearly five-year war that has killed 250,000 people, displaced more than 10 million and left much of the country in ruins.

The last round of the talks broke down in 2014.

Syria has been suffering from the civil war since early 2011 when the Syrian regime brutally cracked down on pro-democracy protests.

TRTWorld and agencies