Morning Chronicle - Agreement at UN to extend cross-border Syria aid: diplomats

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Agreement at UN to extend cross-border Syria aid: diplomats
Agreement at UN to extend cross-border Syria aid: diplomats / Photo: OMAR HAJ KADOUR - AFP/File

Agreement at UN to extend cross-border Syria aid: diplomats

The UN Security Council has agreed to extend a vital system for cross-border aid to war-ravaged Syria by six months, the length of time wanted by Russia, diplomats told AFP Monday.

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Western nations had demanded a year-long extension, but a vote by the 15 members on half that is expected later in the day.

The agreement will provide for a renewal in January 2023 for another six months, subject to the adoption of a new resolution, the diplomats added.

The aid delivery mechanism across Turkey's border into rebel-held Syria at the Bab al-Hawa crossing is the only way United Nations assistance can reach civilians without navigating areas controlled by Syrian government forces.

The system, in place since 2014 and which more two million people rely on for assistance, had expired on Sunday.

The agreement breaks an impasse that had threatened to derail the life-saving supplies.

Syrian ally Russia on Friday vetoed a Security Council resolution that would have prolonged the mechanism by one year, and Western powers then voted down Moscow's competing resolution that proposed extending approval by just six months.

The last draft by Ireland and Norway suggested the possibility of a halt to the mechanism in January next year if the Security Council so decided.

The new Irish-Norwegian draft text requires a briefing every two months on the implementation of the system.

It also calls for a special report on humanitarian needs in the region to the UN secretary-general by December 10.

Russia's deputy ambassador to the UN Dmitry Polyanski said Moscow would adopt the resolution with "a minimal modification."

An ambassador of an influential Security Council member said his country would adopt the resolution.

Moscow has curtailed a number of Western-backed measures in recent years, using its veto 17 times in relation to Syria since the war's outbreak in 2011.

More than 4,600 aid trucks, carrying mostly food, have crossed Bab al-Hawa this year, helping some 2.4 million people, according to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.