MESOP SYRIA : NO PEACE / NO AID – Ceasefire Wobbles Amid No Movement on Aid

September 17 – 2016 – by Scott Lucas –  eaworldview – Syria’s ceasefire looked increasingly fragile on Friday, its fourth day, with no movement on aid to its largest city Aleppo and more violations were reported. Briefings to the UN Security Council by the representatives of the US and Russia, the two powers who arranged the truce, were cancelled on Friday.Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin blamed the US, suggesting there was lack of unity in the Obama Administration over the agreement. However, senior UN officials showed increasing frustration with the Assad regime over the inability to get assistance into Aleppo, besieged by pro-Assad forces and Russia in early July and again from early September.The UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said, “The Syrian government promised permits for UN aid convoys before the ceasefire….They have not been received. This is something that is required to happen immediately.”

The UN’s humanitarian affairs spokesman, Jens Laerke, echoed on Friday, “To actually initiate the actual movement of these convoys we need the facilitation letters. They have not come. It’s highly frustrating.”

Two convoys of 20 trucks each, with enough food for about 80,000 people for one month, crossed the Turkish border on Tuesday. However, they were soon held up. The Assad regime has said that it will not allow assistance that is not controlled by itself or the UN. US Secretary of State John Kerry told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Washington “expects Russia to use its influence on the Assad regime to allow UN humanitarian convoys to reach Aleppo and other areas in need”, according to State Department spokesman John Kirby.

Opposition activists reported more regime violations of the ceasefire on Friday, including airstrikes that killed wounded civilians in Idlib Province in northwest Syria. Regime attacks, including bombing, were also reported on Hama, Homs, and Aleppo Provinces A pro-regime webstrikes acknowledged the Syrian air force’s raids on villages and towns — recently captured by rebels — in northern Hama, but said these were in response to rebel rocketing of regime-held territory. Claimed footage of an airstrike with incendiary weapons on a village in northern Homs Province:

Opposition activists and rebels also said the Syrian military tried to storm Jobar, an area in northeast Damascus where there has been fighting for four years, but were repelled. State media claimed rebels violated the ceasefire by shelling the adjacent neighborhood of Qaboun, wounding three people.