The United Nations says an anti-government group, which has been designated as terrorist by the international community, is preventing aid consignments from being delivered to the earthquake-stricken areas in the northern part of Syria.
A spokesman for the UN’s humanitarian aid office made the remarks on Sunday, saying there were “issues with approval” by the group, which it identified as the terrorist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
The group has been waging deadly violence against Syrian people and government forces alike since 2011, when the Arab country found itself in the grip of foreign-backed militancy and terrorism.
The northern part of Syria, which is currently under HTS’ control, has received little relief aid as terrorists have sealed front lines with the government, despite last week’s announcement by Damascus that it is willing to send aid to that region.
Meanwhile, Reuters quoted an HTS source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, as confirming that the terror outfit will not let in shipments from government-held parts of Syria, alleging, “We won’t allow the regime to take advantage of the situation to show they are helping.”
The developments come as the death toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and neighboring Syria on Monday has approached 33,000.
The biggest part of the fatalities that have been caused in Syria, have occurred in the territory that is being held by Takfiri terrorist groups.
UN aid chief: We failed people in NW Syria, they feel abandoned
In a related development, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths took to Twitter on Sunday, lamenting the world body’s failure to properly help the quake-hit Syrians in those areas.
“We have so far failed the people in north-west Syria. They rightly feel abandoned. Looking for international help that hasn’t arrived,” he wrote.
“My duty and our obligation is to correct this failure as fast as we can. That’s my focus now,” he added.
Also on Sunday, UN envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen arrived in the Syrian capital Damascus, noting, “We need all the access we can have, crossline, cross-border, and we need more resources.”
“We are reaching out of course to bilateral countries, we are mobilizing funding, and we’re trying to tell everyone [to] put politics aside, this is a time to unite behind a common effort to support the Syrian people,” he said.