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Agreement at UN to expand cross-border aid to Syria: diplomats – International News News – Report by AFR

The UN Security Council has agreed to extend a vital system of cross-border aid to war-ravaged Syria by six months, the length of time Russia wants, diplomats told AFP on Monday.

Western nations had called for a year-long extension, but a vote of half by the 15 members is expected later in the day.

The deal provides for an extension in January 2023 for a further six months, subject to the adoption of a new resolution, the diplomats added.

The aid delivery mechanism across the Turkish border into rebel-held Syria at the Bab al-Hawa crossing point is the only way UN aid can reach civilians without navigating through areas controlled by Syrian government forces.

The system, which has been in place since 2014 and on which more than two million people depend, expired on Sunday.

The agreement breaks a deadlock that threatened to derail life-saving supplies.

Syrian ally Russia on Friday vetoed a Security Council resolution that would have extended the mechanism by a year, and Western powers then voted against Moscow’s competing resolution that proposed extending the permit by just six months.

Ireland and Norway’s latest draft suggested the possibility of stopping the mechanism in January next year if the Security Council decides to do so.

The new Irish-Norwegian draft text provides for a bi-monthly briefing on the implementation of the system.

She is also calling for a special report on humanitarian needs in the region to the UN Secretary-General by December 10.

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, said Moscow will accept the resolution with “a minimal change”.

An ambassador for an influential Security Council member said his country would accept the resolution.

Moscow has curtailed a range of Western-backed measures in recent years, and has vetoed Syria 17 times since the war broke out in 2011.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 4,600 aid trucks, mostly loaded with food, have passed through Bab al-Hawa this year, helping about 2.4 million people.

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