Syria aid deliveries postponed over violence: Red Cross

A Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteer cross-checks a list of families in Moadamiyeh, Syria during a joint food aid distribution between the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
A Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteer cross-checks a list of families in Moadamiyeh, Syria during a joint food aid distribution between the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIRUT (AFP) - Aid groups were unable to deliver much-needed food packages to four besieged towns in war-torn Syria on Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said, citing security problems.

Since an unprecedented ceasefire took effect on Feb 27, aid deliveries have reached thousands of people in areas blockaded by both regime and opposition forces.

Under an agreement negotiated with the two warring sides in the five-year war, aid groups were set to deliver aid to Madaya and Zabadani, two towns near Damascus blockaded by the regime, and Fuaa and Kafraya, which are besieged by rebels in Syria's northwest.

Distribution to those areas has always been "synchronised", ICRC spokesman Pawel Krzysiek told AFP by phone from Damascus, meaning that aid could only be delivered to all four towns at once.

Citing "the situation around Qalaat al-Madiq" in central Hama province, Krzysiek said that "for security reasons we can't really send our trucks in this direction".

Rebel-held Qalaat al-Madiq is located on the road to Kafraya in northern Syria, he said.

Separately, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported shelling by the army on Qalaat al-Madiq.

"We have everything ready," Krzysiek said. "As soon as the security situation allows for the synchronisation to happen, we will do it." Elsewhere, aid was delivered later on Monday to 10,000 families in the northern province of Aleppo, said Krzysiek.

The Syrian Red Crescent, which distributed the aid, said on Facebook that its volunteers reached four areas of Aleppo, including the flashpoint town of Azaz near the Turkish border.

Despite a truce negotiated by Russia and the United States, many areas of Syria remain under siege, and violence has not come to a complete stop.

Fighting has continued with groups including the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria.

"There are still places in Syria where fighting goes on, causing human suffering," Krzysiek said.

"People talk about the ceasefire locations but forget the places where there is still fighting."

According to the UN, aid has reached some 240,000 people in recent weeks.