Syria gets aid from Russia, France

Lester Mason
Июля 23, 2018

France and Russian Federation will jointly deliver humanitarian aid to the former Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta, the French Presidency said in a statement with Russian Federation on Friday.

The French foreign ministry said that the cargo plane would take off from Chateauroux later in the evening and head towards Russia's Hmeimim air base in the west of Syria.

The aid is intended for residents of the region of Eastern ghouta, near the Syrian capital of Damascus.

Earlier Saturday, a Russian military plane left the French city of Chateauroux with 50 tons of medical aid and humanitarian supplies bound for Syria.

Little aid has entered eastern Ghouta, where about 500,000 people live, since April, although United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) was able to deliver food and nutritional aid for some 25,000 people in early July.

It will be the first joint humanitarian operation in Syria between Russian Federation and a Western country.

It is crucial that Syrians get wider access to humanitarian relief, the statement noted, before adding that aid should be distributed fairly and freely all across Syria "where worldwide humanitarian law must apply".

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The medicines and essentials delivered to Syria "will be handed over to meet the needs of the civilian population, which is still in dire need of assistance, in Eastern Ghouta (Douma), particularly for emergency medical care in hospitals managed by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent", the ministry noted.

France has received assurances from Russian Federation that all necessary approvals from Assad's government had been given for the convoy to make the journey from the north to eastern Ghouta and Paris does not expect the cargo to be used by Syrian authorities for political means, the officials said.

A French news agency photographer who saw the plane being loaded told AFP the supplies included tents, medical equipment, blankets, and cooking utensils.

"Specific proposals on how work could be organised to ensure that refugees can return home have been sent to the American side", General Mikhail Mizintsev, a senior ministry official, said in a statement.

Trump and Putin announced they had reached several points of agreement following their first bilateral summit in the Finnish capital, but did not provide further details.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also confirmed on Friday this had been part of the presidents' talks.

In other developments, Moscow has put forward plans to Washington to cooperate on the safe return of refugees to Syria, the Russian Ministry of Defence said on Friday, days after a summit between Presidents Putin and Donald Trump.

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