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UN Security Council Rejects Russia-Backed Bid To Reduce Cross-Border Aid To Syria

The Bab Al-Salam border checkpoint on the Turkey-Syria border.
The Bab Al-Salam border checkpoint on the Turkey-Syria border.

The UN Security Council on July 8 voted down a Russian resolution calling for humanitarian aid access to Syria's mainly rebel-held northwest to be reduced to one crossing point from Turkey.

Russia, Syria’s closest ally, circulated the draft resolution after it joined China on July 7 in vetoing an initial draft resolution to maintain aid deliveries through two border crossing points from Turkey for a year.

A new proposal is likely to be circulated calling for two crossings from Turkey in a mandate lasting six months. Its chances of passing before the current mandate expires on July 10 are unclear.

The Russian resolution needed a minimum of nine yes votes in the 15-member council and it got support from only four countries -- Russia, China, Vietnam, and South Africa.

Seven countries -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Estonia, and the Dominican Republic -- voted against it and the remaining four countries abstained.

The resolution that Russia and China nixed on July 7 would have maintained two border crossing points from Turkey into Syria for humanitarian aid deliveries for a year.

UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock has said the two crossings are “a lifeline” for millions of civilians who cannot be reached by UN aid by any other means.

Authorization for cross-border humanitarian aid without interference from Damascus has existed since 2014, with periodic extensions.

The aid currently passes through two crossing points on the Turkish border -- at Bab Al-Salam, which leads to the Aleppo region, and Bab Al-Hawa, which serves the opposition-held Idlib region.

Under its resolution, Moscow had wanted to abolish the Bab Al-Salam crossing point and put a time limit of six months on the second. The Bab Al-Salam crossing allows for shipments of humanitarian aid to between 3 million and 4 million people living in the Idlib region.

The proposal also argued that the delivery of the aid could be improved if it were under the control of the Syrian regime.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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