Russia takes aim at UN aid to Syrian opposition areas

Russia on Thursday (November 29th) called for changes to a UN measure allowing cross-border deliveries of humanitarian aid to millions of Syrians living in opposition-held areas, AFP reported.

The UN Security Council will in the coming weeks decide whether to renew a resolution that since 2014 has authorised aid convoys to cross into Syria from Turkey and Jordan, without the approval of the government in Damascus.

Russian Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said relief supplies sent to those areas were being seized by armed groups, subject to extortion at checkpoints and had generated $2 million in monthly revenue to opposition groups.

"The situation on the ground in Syria has significantly changed and it is important to lead to a commensurate adjustment of the cross-border mechanism," Polyanskiy told the council.

He did not elaborate on the adjustment that Russia is advocating.

Russia last year abstained in the vote to renew the aid scheme but did not use its veto power at the council to block the relief operation.

The UN maintains that the cross-border deliveries are a lifeline to Syrians living in opposition-held territory because the Syrian regime has heavily restricted aid shipments to those areas.

More than 13 million people need humanitarian aid in Syria, and nearly three million Syrians receive aid delivered from across the border, according to UN officials.

The council is expected to vote in December on the draft resolution renewing the aid deliveries, which expires on January 10th.

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