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AL-BALATT /Syria/, March 31. /TASS/. Russian servicemen have delivered humanitarian aid to the Aleppo province, the first since the start of Syria conflict. Local residents were provided with about four tons of foodstuffs, the Russian center for reconciliation of warring sides in Syria has said.
The humanitarian cargo was airlifted in three helicopters to a transfer point south of Aleppo along different routes and at altitudes below 4,500 meters to minimize shelling.
Later on, motor vehicles delivered the aid to the village of al-Balatt on the outskirts of Aleppo’s, where individual food packages, canned food and bags of cereal and flour were handed over to local residents.
"The Russian army helps the Syrian army as Russia has experienced firsthand what terrorism is like and is ready to provide help to our friends," Colonel Yuri Volodchenko, a representative of the Russian reconciliation center in Aleppo province, said. "Today we have brought the first humanitarian aid to recently liberated localities in the Aleppo province. We hope it will help peaceful life to be put on track here."
By Thursday, over 700 families had returned to their homes in al-Balatt as the Syrian army and militia forces pledged to guarantee security to the local population after ousting terrorists from the area. Local civilians were happy to receive the humanitarian aid, saying it was the first ever there.
Aleppo, one of Syria’s largest cities, was assaulted by the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group in 2012. In the past three years its population has decreased from 2.5 million to under a million people. At present terrorists still control part of the city although Syria’s army has managed to break the blockade in Aleppo suburbs and disrupt gunmen’s supply routes.
Ceasefire in Syria
The ceasefire has been effective in Syria since February 27. It does not apply to the groups Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra (both outlawed in Russia), and also to other groups declared as terrorist by the UN Security Council.
The Russian Defense Ministry declared the establishment of the reconciliation center on February 23. It is headquartered at the Hmeimim air base, Latakia province. The center was set up in line with agreements reached by Russia and the United States to facilitate the negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition and to organize humanitarian deliveries.