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Ground route of aid delivery to Syria’s Hasakah blocked by Turkey — ambassador

June 27, 19:22 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russia’s ambassador to Syria, Alexander Kinshchak, told TASS that there are no grounds to expect a humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo
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Humanitarian aid being distributed in Syria (archive)

Humanitarian aid being distributed in Syria (archive)

© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

MOSCOW, June 27. /TASS/. Humanitarian assistance to Syria’s city of Hasakah can be delivered only by air, because Turkey has closed the border checkpoint, Russia’s ambassador to Syria, Alexander Kinshchak, told TASS in an interview, adding that the air bridge was a rather costly solution.

"The United Nations and the International Red Cross are still unable to deliver aid to a number of Syrian cities besieged by the extremists," he said.

As far as Deir ez-Zor (a large provincial center with a population of 200,000) is concerned, the situation is clear: the roads are blocked by the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia). Any agreement with the IS is impossible, so humanitarian supplies are airlifted. The state of affairs in Hasakah, on the border with Turkey is different. There is not such clarity.

"Why do humanitarian supplies have to be delivered there by cargo aircraft? This requires heavy spending. The costs of air transportation are high," Kinshchak said. "It is a question to which I have no answer."

"The Turks have closed the border checkpoint and they do not let in humanitarian convoys. This forces the United Nations to airlift foods and medical supplies. It is a costly solution. But nobody gets angry over this and nobody threatens with sanctions or the use of force. This is precisely what one calls double standards," Kinshchak said.

"Any humanitarian assistance can be easily delivered to Hasakah from Turkey. This is not being done because Ankara does not give permission," he said. "This is a hard fact too. But nobody makes any special protests over this, either.

No grounds to fear humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo

According to the diplomat, there are no grounds to expect a humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo.

"Judging by the political aspects, I would say that there are no grounds to fear a humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo," he said.

He drew attention to the fact that various international organizations and Western and some of the regional mass media began to show concern over the humanitarian situation in Aleppo when Syrian air force started to deliver airstrikes against militant convoys moving along the Castello road which is used to provide supplies to terrorist groups around the city from abroad.

"It looks like these concerns emerged not for nothing. They were a reaction to airstrikes against militant convoys on the Castello road that were geared to stop supplies to militants from abroad," the Russian diplomat noted. "As for the military situation around Aleppo, so far, government forces have to conduct fierce defense battles to repel massive attacks of Jabhat al-Nusra jihadists and their allies."

Situation in Damascus has considerably improved

The ambassador has also pointed out that the situation in Damascus had considerably improved but the threat of large-scale terrorist attacks remained.

"Objectively speaking, the situation in Damascus has considerably improved in the recent months," he said. "The center of the city, including the area where our embassy is located, is no longer a target for missile and mortar shelling." In his words, the situation in central Damascus is "more or less quiet."

"However the threat of large-scale terrorist attacks remains, as seen from the recent blasts in Damascus’ suburb of Sayyidah Zaynab, when dozens of people died or received wounds in a terrorist attack," he said.

"Clashes continue in the city’s suburbs and adjacent neighborhoods - Eastern Ghouta, Western Ghouta, where militants of the terrorist organizations Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State [both outlawed in Russian - TASS] and other illegal armed groups affiliated with them are present," the Russian ambassador noted.

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