Ceasefire a "positive" but Syrians still await aid deliveries

The first 36 hours of the Syrian ceasefire brokered by Russia and the United States appeared "positive," a monitoring group said Wednesday, but activists warned that desperate people were still awaiting much-needed aid deliveries.

"The ceasefire is being implemented very well, despite some breaches. So far it has been persevering and protecting the Syrian people who have been paying a high price," said Rami Adbulrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, the Observatory estimates 301,781 people have been killed. More than half of Syria's pre-war population of 22.4 million have been displaced, including nearly 5 million refugees who have fled the country.

The ceasefire excludes the Islamic State extremist group and al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters. The al-Qaeda linked militants often fight alongside rebels against President Bashar al-Assad, adding a layer of complication to a ceasefire.

"It is hard to accept a continued intermingling and cooperation between the opposition and an organization which is al-Qaeda in Syria," a senior US official said late Tuesday, adding that the rebel movement would have to "distance itself" if the ceasefire holds.

According to activists inside rebel-held eastern Aleppo city, calm is prevailing but people are waiting for aid agencies to be allowed access.

"People are anxiously waiting for food and medical aid to enter Aleppo," Omar al Arab, an activist based in eastern Aleppo told dpa.Between 250,000 and 275,000 people in east Aleppo have been cut off from assistance since early July, according to the United Nations.

UN officials said they are still awaiting "a green light" to move.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura told reporters Tuesday in Geneva that the UN was still waiting for an authorization from the Syrian government to deliver aid.

The Syrian government said it would not allow in unauthorized aid from Turkey, a staunch backer of the rebels.

Last update: Wed, 14/09/2016 - 11:16

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