Turkey’s UN aid to Syria likely allowed until January, vote Tuesday

An internally displaced Syrian woman walks as she holds a bag of humanitarian aid in opposition Idlib, Syria June 9, 2021. Picture taken June 9, 2021. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

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UNITED NATIONS, July 11 (Reuters) – The UN Security Council appears ready to authorize UN aid deliveries to some 4 million people in northwestern Syria from Turkey to Syria. January, diplomats said Monday, after days of wrangling with Russia over the timeline the huge operation continues.

The mandate of the operation, which has been providing food, medicine and shelter to the opposition-held area in Syria since 2014, expired on Sunday. The authorization of the Council is necessary because the Syrian authorities have not given their consent.

The 15-member body will vote on Tuesday on a draft resolution – presented by Ireland and Norway – which mirrors a Russian text, which failed in the vote on Friday. The United States, France and Britain opposed it because they said six months was not long enough for aid groups to plan and operate effectively.

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To pass, a resolution needs nine votes and no vetoes from Russia, China, the United States, France or Britain.

Russia initially vetoed a one-year extension on Friday, which was backed by 13 council members, while China abstained. Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, said Moscow would continue to veto any text other than its own.

“The Russians were able to shape the outcome of this process, but they seemed quite alone along the way,” said Crisis Group UN director Richard Gowan, noting that China had been pushing for a compromise and not had not joined Russia in vetoing.

Only Russia and China backed the Russian plan on Friday, and the remaining 10 council members abstained.

Russia maintains that the UN aid operation violates Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It says more aid should be flown in from within the country, raising fears among the opposition that food and other aid could fall under government control.

The Security Council’s vote on authorizing the aid operation has long been a contentious issue, but this year also comes amid heightened tensions between Russia and Western powers over the invasion of the Ukraine by Moscow on February 24.

In 2014, the Security Council authorized deliveries of humanitarian aid to opposition-held areas in Syria from Iraq, Jordan and two points in Turkey. But the veto powers of Russia and China have reduced this to a single Turkish border point.

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Reporting by Michelle Nichols; edited by Jonathan Oatis and Sam Holmes

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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