UN aid convoys head to two Syrian besieged towns

Trucks with relief goods head to al-Moaddamiyeh town in the countryside of Damascus, Syria, on Feb 17, 2016.
Trucks with relief goods head to al-Moaddamiyeh town in the countryside of Damascus, Syria, on Feb 17, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) - UN aid convoys headed to two Syrian towns besieged by government forces on Tuesday (Feb 23) to deliver life-saving food and medicine to some 30,000 people, a UN spokesman said.

The deliveries to the towns of Moadamiyeh and Kafr Batna, near Damascus, came after aid reached five besieged towns last week, part of a major push to reach civilians facing starvation.

"These are the first of what we hope to be a series of deliveries to meet the needs of people that humanitarian workers have not been able to reach for a long time," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The convoys carried enough food and medical supplies to help some 20,000 people in Moadamiyeh and 10,000 in Kafr Batna, he said.

The humanitarian aid came a day after the United States and Russia agreed on a cessation of hostilities as of Saturday that could pave the way to more deliveries.

The United Nations is calling on all sides to lift starvation sieges across Syria, where it estimates that 487,000 people live, although some non-governmental organizations say the figure is much higher.

Last week, 114 trucks loaded with food and other basic goods reached 80,000 people in five besieged areas.

The United Nations is calling for "unconditional, unimpeded and sustained access" to all hard-to-reach areas, said Dujarric.

More than 260,000 people have died in Syria's conflict, which began in March 2011 with anti-government protests but has since imploded into a multi-sided proxy war.