UN, Syria’s Red Crescent deliver French aid to Ghouta
DOUMA - Syrian relief workers and the United Nations began distributing aid provided by France to the battered region of Eastern Ghouta on Thursday, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent said.
The organisation said on Twitter that "3,840 blankets, 572 kitchen kits and tents from (the) French aid" as well as 30 medical kits were being handed out.
Pictures published by the Red Crescent showed a convoy of their trucks and UN vehicles, as well as blankets being distributed.
A source from the organisation said a total of seven trucks entered Douma, the main town in Ghouta, and unloaded the aid.
Residents of Eastern Ghouta had faced five years of crippling siege during which even the most basic food and medicines were virtually unaffordable, forcing around 400,000 people to rely on UN aid deliveries.
The Red Crescent did not specify how many people would benefit from the latest aid delivery.
The assistance was part of a humanitarian aid operation coordinated between Moscow and Paris, the first such mission between Russia and a Western country.
More than 40 tonnes of medical aid and humanitarian supplies were loaded onto a Russian military cargo plane in the central French city of Chateauroux early Saturday.
The supplies, including medicine, clothes and tents, was flown to the Russian military base in Hmeimim in Syria's Latakia province before being brought to the outskirts of Damascus on Thursday.
- Aid to Daraa -
France had said it had secured "guarantees" from Russia that the Syrian regime would not obstruct the distribution of the aid, and that it would not be misappropriated or used for political ends.
"This humanitarian operation, conducted jointly with Russia, is being implemented under the supervision of the United Nations in Syria," a French foreign ministry spokesman said.
Syrian troops recaptured Ghouta from rebels in April, after a blistering assault which killed hundreds and ended in a surrender deal that transferred tens of thousands of opposition fighters and civilians out of the area.
Thousands stayed in the suburb and others have returned in recent weeks, although many of Ghouta's towns remain in ruins.
In the country's southern province of Daraa, the Red Crescent brought in 38 trucks of aid to nearly a dozen areas where rebels had agreed to hand over territory to the government, one correspondent there said.
The 38 trucks were loaded with food and flour.
Syria's government has waged a fierce offensive in Daraa since June 19, bringing almost all the province under its control, through a combination of military force and rebel surrenders.
An official in Daraa city said on Thursday that the aid convoy carried nearly 5,000 food parcels.
Parts of Daraa are still held by the opposition but deals provide for those areas also to be handed over to government troops.