Let aid reach people, Kerry tells Syria’s Assad regime

Washington, March 1 (IANS) US Secretary of State John Kerry has accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of obstructing deliveries of humanitarian aid in Syria, calling on him to show “some measure of decency” during the truce in the country.

A February 11 agreement to implement a cessation of hostilities in Syria had already resulted in direct aid reaching 116,000 people, Kerry said on Monday.

But Kerry said he was concerned over reports that the Assad regime “continues to drag its feet” in providing permits for the aid to get through.

“And so we call on the Assad regime to, at least in a moment of cessation of hostilities, try to show some measure of decency, if that is even possible.”

“And our hope is that they will also stop their people, their troops and their officials who get in the way or manage these shipments, from actually putting their hands into the shipments and taking out medicine or other preferred items simply to keep for themselves,” he said.

“So this obstructionism has to stop, and we call on the Russians and the Iranians to do everything in their power to leverage their client to understand the stakes here.”

The cessation of hostilities between a handful of rebel groups and the Assad regime began Friday midnight (local time), excluding terrorist groups such as Islamic State and Al Nusra Front which is linked to the Al-Qaeda group.

Kerry said the UN hoped its aid would reach 150,000 more people this week and 1.7 million by the end of March, “providing that we can hold on to this process”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement on Monday that many of its requests for medical aid delivery have not been approved by the Syrian authorities.

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