Humanitarian aid has started reaching besieged areas of Syria after trucks filled with supplies left Damascus, as the United Nations has urged warring parties to use aid delivery as a “first step” to a ceasefire.
The UN spokesman says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wants a cessation of hostilities in Syria as soon as possible, and the sending of aid convoys is “an incredibly important first step”.
Aid trucks started entering three more besieged Syrian areas on Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters, as part of U.N.-backed deal to deliver humanitarian assistance to five besieged areas.
At least 100 trucks rolled out of the capital on Wednesday afternoon in the latest delivery of supplies to trapped residents, said Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from Gaziantep, near Turkey’s border with Syria.
“Undoubtedly this is progress for the thousands trapped in these besieged areas,” Khodr said.
About 35 vehicles later arrived at the entrance to Moadimayet al-Sham, a rebel-held town near Damascus encircled by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, an AFP journalist at the scene said.
Another 18 trucks departed for al-Foua and Kafraya, two towns in northwestern Idlib province besieged by rebels, the Red Crescent said.
About 50 more were to travel to Madaya and Zabadani, two other regime-besieged towns near Damascus.
The Syrian government approved access to seven besieged areas, the UN said after crisis talks in Damascus on Tuesday, a week before a planned resumption of peace talks between Syria’s warring parties.
Supplies included wheat and high-energy foods. A medical team would enter Kafraya and al-Foua, the spokesman said.
The Syrian Red Crescent was co-ordinating with the UN on the aid deliveries.