The price of Assad’s victory: Syrian civilians starved of humanitarian aid

Residents of the Syrian town of Douma receive blankets distributed by relief workers and the United Nations as part of a humanitarian assistance provided by France. (AFP)
Updated 09 October 2018

The price of Assad’s victory: Syrian civilians starved of humanitarian aid

  • Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, and rural parts of Homs province have been without the vital support they once relied on
  • Aid became politicized early on, and two separate operations developed

BEIRUT/JEDDAH:  Tens of thousands of Syrian civilians in areas recaptured by Assad regime troops have lost access to humanitarian aid because relief agencies can no longer reach them.

International aid groups have been forced to halt their crucial health, food and protection services because they have no regime authorization to work.

Vulnerable civilians in Syria’s south, Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, and rural parts of Homs province have been left without the vital support they once relied on.

“The aid that used to come from international agencies to the south completely stopped,” said Mohammad Al-Zoabi, 29, from Al-Mseifra in southern Syria. 

“There’s a lack of flour, medical supplies, and hospitals in general after medical points and field clinics were closed.”

The UN said 66 aid trucks entered the south from Jordan in June, but none in July when regime troops seized the area. Residents said doctors and Syrian aid workers had fled, were wanted by security forces for working in opposition areas or had requested — but were denied — regime permission to resume relief work.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), Mercy Corps, and Save the Children have all halted aid programs. 

“During the course of the war, as areas have changed hands to government control, the IRC has stopped providing support in those areas,” IRC country director Lorraine Bramwell said.

Residents in Talbisseh, a town in Homs seized by the regime in May, said medicine and food had become unavailable or unaffordable.

“There was one functioning hospital and three medical points in Talbisseh before the regime came, but they all shut down because now they need licenses from the ministries,” said Sami, 20.

Meanwhile, opposition forces have completed the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontline in Idlib province. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in September to establish a demilitarized buffer zone zone there to prevent a massive regime assault.


Erdogan: Turkey will drive Syrian forces back from Idlib posts this week

Updated 17 min 13 sec ago

Erdogan: Turkey will drive Syrian forces back from Idlib posts this week

  • ‘We are planning to liberate our observation posts from the surrounding (Syrian government forces) by the end of this month, one way or another’
  • Turkey set up 12 observation posts up around a ‘de-escalation zone’ in Idlib under a 2017 agreement with Russia and Iran

ANKARA: Turkey plans to push Syrian government forces away from its military observation posts in northwest Syria’s Idlib region by end-February, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, despite advances by the Russian-backed government forces.
Erdogan said he hoped the issue of using air space in Idlib will be resolved soon. Russia controls the region’s air space and has been bombing Turkey-backed rebels on a daily basis in support of an offensive by the Syrian government forces.
“We are planning to liberate our observation posts from the surrounding (Syrian government forces) by the end of this month, one way or another,” Erdogan told his party’s MPs in a speech.
Syrian rebels backed by the Turkish military seized the town of Nairab in Idlib this week, according to rebel and Turkish sources, but Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces continue to made advances elsewhere in the province.
Erdogan first said on Feb. 5 that Assad’s forces must pull back behind a line of Turkish observation posts by end-February, or Turkey would drive them back.
Turkey set up 12 observation posts up around a “de-escalation zone” in Idlib under a 2017 agreement with Russia and Iran, but several are now behind Syrian government front lines.