UN extends critical aid from Türkiye to Syria's north

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on Dec. 9 to keep a key border crossing from Türkiye to Syria's rebel-held northwest open for critical aid deliveries for another six months. Syria's ally Russia — in a surprise move — supported the resolution.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said after the vote that cross-border aid remains "an indispensable lifeline for 4.1 million people in northwest Syria."

The vote, the U.N. chief stressed, "comes as humanitarian needs have reached the highest levels since the start of the conflict in 2011, with people in Syria grappling with a harsh winter," according to his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

All eyes had been on Russia, which in the past abstained or vetoed resolutions on cross-border aid deliveries. It has sought to replace aid crossing the Turkish border to northwestern Idlib province with convoys from government-held areas in Syria. Since the early years of the war, Türkiye has sided with and supported Syria's rebels.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said supporting the resolution was "difficult," describing the northwest as an enclave "inundated with terrorists." The vote, he said, is not a change in Moscow's "principled position" that cross-border aid deliveries — which began in 2014 — are temporary and should be replaced by Syrian government-controlled deliveries.

Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bassam Sabbagh criticized Western countries for "politicizing humanitarian work," and said Western sanctions "have aggravated the suffering of the Syrians." He claimed the government has been "working relentlessly" to provide basic services to Syrians.

Last month, Guterres warned in a report to the council that Syria's already dire humanitarian situation is worsening. If...

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