Aid enters rebel-held areas in Aleppo

 10 Apr 2014 - 6:31

Men are seen inside a cave used as an underground shelter in Idlib countryside yesterday. Residents dug underground shelters to hide in during shelling from forces loyal to President Bashar Al Assad.

DAMASCUS: Syria’s Red Crescent and the UN refugee agency have delivered aid to rebel-held areas of Aleppo city for the first time in 10 months, the Red Crescent said yesterday.
“Yesterday at noon we and a UNHCR team were able to bring in aid from the Jisr Al Haj crossing,” Red Crescent operations chief Khaled Erksoussi said. The crossing lies between the government-held west of Aleppo and eastern parts of the city that rebels control.
“The operation took place after the implementation of a ceasefire between all the parties that was respected during the mission,” said Erksoussi. It was the first time aid had been brought in via the Jisr Al Haj crossing, with a delivery in June last year entering from the northeast of the city instead.
The goods, including food, blankets and health kits, were taken into the eastern neighbourhoods on carts pulled by workers because the crossing was to small to accommodate vehicles, said Erksoussi. The items would be stored in warehouses in the eastern part of the city and distributed in stages.
The agency called the mission a “rare and risky operation,” adding its staff had observed a “dire humanitarian situation inside eastern Aleppo”.  It described “an acute shortage of food, water, medicine and basic supplies”.
Aleppo has been effectively divided into regime control in the west and rebel control in the east since shortly after fighting began there in the middle of 2012. The government has made some advances on the outskirts of the eastern side of the city in a campaign that has included serial aid raids including with the use of explosive-packed barrel bombs.

25 killed in Homs
Meanwhile, two car bombs killed at least 25 people, including women and children, in a government-held neighbourhood of Homs, state news agency Ssna reported. Another 100 people were wounded in Karam Al Luz, in attacks Sana blamed on “terrorists,” the government’s term for people fighting to overthrow President Bashar Al Assad.
“Twenty-five people fell as martyrs, including women and children, and more than 107 others were wounded after the explosion of the two car bombs” a half-hour apart, Sana said.
Videos posted online by activists showed destroyed shopfronts and people panicking and running in all directions as rescuers struggled to extinguish a fire.
More than 150,000 people have been killed since the revolt began in March 2011 and nine million have been driven from their homes, including 2.6 million international refugees. Earlier, troops fighting in the Qalamun region seized the town of Rankus, tightening their grip on the strategic region along the Lebanese border.