Syria Truce Hangs in Balance Amid Attacks, Lack of Aid

Besieged Aleppo hasn’t received any aid deliveries from trucks that are stuck on Turkish border


Updated Sept. 19, 2016 9:32 a.m. ET

BEIRUT—Food and fuel were running out in opposition-controlled areas of Aleppo on Monday, residents and antigovernment activists said, as truckloads of humanitarian aid remained stalled at the Turkish border and a nationwide cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Russia verged on collapse.

“There is no bombing. But what is worse than the airstrikes is the humanitarian situation in Aleppo,” Mohammad al-Zein, a hospital worker, said via WhatsApp. He and his family had only bread and tea for breakfast, he said.

“People in the city have run out of diesel, and bakeries that rely on this are working only three times a week as the quantity of flour is dropping, too,” Mr. al-Zein added. “We went to the market looking for dairy products, but we found nothing.”

The initial lull in fighting after the cease-fire took effect nearly a week ago was supposed to allow for deliveries of desperately needed humanitarian aid to the northern Syrian city. The transfers haven’t occurred, with the United Nations pinning most of the blame for the delay on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

A Syrian man stands in the rubble of destroyed buildings following an airstrike in Aleppo on Sunday.
A Syrian man stands in the rubble of destroyed buildings following an airstrike in Aleppo on Sunday. PHOTO:AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES


The holdup of aid and mutual recriminations among the government, its opposition and their foreign patrons over who is responsible have gnawed away at the cease-fire, and over the weekend there was a sharp escalation of violence.

On Saturday, Syrian government forces in the eastern province of Deir Ezzour were hit in what the U.S.-led military coalition fighting Islamic State said was a mistake. A Syrian official said 83 soldiers were killed and more than 100 wounded in the attack.

A day later, Russian or regime warplanes resumed raids on the rebel-held districts of Aleppo.

The U.S. has acknowledged that its aircraft participated in Saturday’s raids, and the U.K. said Monday its airplanes also were involved. The Ministry of Defense said in London it was cooperating with the coalition’s investigation into the incident, adding: “The U.K. would not intentionally target Syrian military units.”


The Kremlin called Saturday’s coalition airstrike a “brutal attack” and warned Monday the fragile cease-fire was imperiled. It stopped short, however, of declaring the deal dead.

Under the deal, seven days of calm were to be followed by a decision by Washington and Moscow over whether to start cooperating militarily in combating ultra-extremist groups in Syria such as Islamic State and Conquest of Syria Front.

In the besieged, opposition-held areas of Aleppo, generators have gone quiet since Saturday for lack of diesel fuel, according to Mr. al-Zein. Some residents with no more kerosene or gas have started burning plastic bags and scraps of cardboard boxes to cook, he said.

Having grown skeptical about what they view as U.N.’s ineffectiveness at resolving Syria’s conflict, some residents in opposition-controlled neighborhoods weren’t counting on the 40 truckloads of humanitarian aid still sitting on the Syrian-Turkish border to arrive.

“Civilians here aren’t waiting for anything from the United Nations,” Mr. al-Zein said.

Khalil Hajjar, an Aleppo-based opposition activist, said residents of opposition-held areas of the city want the U.N. to deliver basic products such as fuel and baby formula instead of food baskets.

—Nicholas Winning in London contributed to this article.

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One Response to “Syria Truce Hangs in Balance Amid Attacks, Lack of Aid”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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