Syria extends permission for border crossings after earthquake

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By Webdesk

Bab Alsalama and al-Ra’i will remain open for an additional three months, ending August 13.

Syria has extended the United Nations’ permission to use two additional border crossings for three more months for post-earthquake relief, a Syrian official said.

Syria “has decided to extend the permission it has granted to the UN and its specialized agencies to use the two border crossings of Bab Alsalama and al-Ra’i for an additional three-month period ending August 13,” it said. Bassam Sabbagh, UN of Syria. ambassador, said in a tweet.

“This decision is based on Syria’s willingness to improve stability and improve the living and humanitarian situation of all Syrians, and is in line with its efforts to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to all those in need across Syria,” it added. he to it.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad initially agreed to open the two border crossings for three months from February 13, a week after an earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria. Parts of the northwest are held by groups opposed to al-Assad’s 12-year war.

The UN on Friday asked the Syrian government to renew its approval for the two border crossings to deliver aid into opposition-controlled zones, a spokesman said.

The UN said in a statement on Saturday that Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad informed UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, of the decision to allow the UN to use the border crossings for another three months.

The Bab al-Salam crossing was opened to UN humanitarian aid in February, marking the first time a United Nations convoy has crossed to deliver aid since its closure in 2020.

Damascus has long opposed cross-border aid deliveries to the rebel enclave.

The delay in opening new border crossings blocked immediate relief efforts and search and rescue efforts as the “time for effective search and rescue is tragically drawing to a close,” the International Rescue Committee said in a statement.

The UN has pushed for a freer flow of aid to Syria, especially to the northwest of the country, where it is estimated that more than four million people were already in need of assistance before the earthquake. It wants the aid to go across the front lines in Syria and through border crossings with Turkey.

After years of hostility during the Syrian war, the foreign ministers of Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iran met in Moscow this month for high-level talks on restoring ties between Ankara and Damascus.

Al-Assad was also formally invited to attend the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia on May 19, a telltale sign that Damascus’s regional isolation has thawed.

The re-establishment of ties with Damascus gained momentum following the deadly February 6 earthquake in Turkey and Syria, and the Chinese-mediated restoration of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which had supported opposing sides in the Syrian conflict.

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