GENEVA – An operation to deliver humanitarian aid to a besieged rebel-held enclave outside the Syrian capital Damascus has been postponed due to a deteriorating security situation on the ground there, spokespersons from the International Red Cross and the United Nations told EFE on Thursday.
International efforts to deliver much-needed medical assistance and food resources to civilians trapped in Eastern Ghouta were ramped up in recent days but continued hostilities in the region have hampered operations on several occasions.
“The convoy is postponed, no confirmation yet on when it will take place as the situation is evolving rapidly on the ground,” Ingy Sedky, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Syria, told EFE on Thursday. The uncertainty “doesn’t allow us to carry out the operation in such conditions.”
In a separate statement to EFE, spokesperson for the United Nations humanitarian office in Geneva (UNOCHA), Jens Laerke, said the aid convoys waiting to enter the war-torn enclave, which are being overseen by the UN, the ICRC and local NGOs, were not authorized for security reasons.
Eastern Ghouta, one of the last rebel strongholds in the Damascus region, recently became the target of an almost incessant barrage of airstrikes and shelling conducted by Syrian government forces and its allies, leading to the deaths of over 600 people in the course of a week, including many civilians, women and children.
A daily Russian-brokered ceasefire designed to facilitate the delivery of aid was never properly implemented and Syrian government troops have continued a ground assault on the region and seized 52 percent of the territory from the myriad of mainly Islamist rebels in the area, according to the British war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Russia is the main international backer of the Syrian regime and, since entering the war in 2015, its firepower helped reverse the up until then uncertain fortunes of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The SOHR said that some 86 people died in pro-government bombings on Wednesday alone.
Syria and Russia blamed the constant ceasefire breaches on the rebel groups in the area but local activists have reported widespread destruction to civilian life and infrastructure in the region, which is home to an estimated 400,000 people.