The undated photo shows aid convoys traveling on a road in northwestern Syria. (Photo by AFP)
The United Nations has confirmed that trucks loaded with desperately needed aid for Syria’s war-rattled city of Aleppo have crossed the Turkish border and entered a buffer zone between the two countries.
Jan Egeland, head of the UN humanitarian task force for Syria, said Thursday that the 20 trucks were in the buffer zone after successfully crossing the border.
He voiced hope that the humanitarian items could reach the Syrians in Aleppo, northwest of the country, by Friday.
The United States and Russia extended a ceasefire for Syria earlier in the day after reports said the fragile agreement was mostly holding across the country. However, the truce, which began on September 12, has achieved almost nothing in terms of aid delivery as hundreds of thousands in cities such as Aleppo have been affected by weeks of fierce fighting and are desperately in need of aid.
Opposition sources said Thursday that the exit of the trucks from the buffer zone could be delayed as neither Damascus nor Russia had made any announcement about the withdrawal of troops from the road linking the border area to eastern Aleppo.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces were still on Castello Road and no demilitarization had taken place as anticipated based on the truce deal.
Officials in Russia said a day earlier that militants were to blame for the delay in the withdrawal, saying they continued to target pro-government forces with mortars.
Both the United States and Russia are expected to guarantee the security of the UN aid convoy through influencing the government and militants. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that the trucks would be able to cross the lines in case “the necessary security arrangements” were made by Moscow and Washington.
The UN says the convoy of 20 trucks is stocked with a month's worth of food supplies for 40,000 residents of Aleppo.