Amnesty says Syria earthquake aid has been cut off from parts of Aleppo province

Amnesty says Syria earthquake aid has been cut off from parts of Aleppo province

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian government and Turkey-backed rebel forces have blocked more than 100 trucks carrying humanitarian aid from entering two areas of Aleppo province hit by last month’s deadly earthquake, Amnesty International said on Monday.

The aid, including food, medical supplies, tents and fuel, was sent by Kurdish authorities, the rights group said.

It said the Syrian government had blocked 100 trucks carrying food, medical supplies and tents from entering the Kurdish-majority area of ​​Aleppo.

In the north, rebels blocked 30 trucks of fuel and other aid from entering Afrin, an enclave that Turkish forces and allied rebels have held since ousting Kurdish fighters in 2018.

The Feb. 6 earthquake and aftershocks killed nearly 5,700 people in Syria, carving out a 12-year conflict into contested territory and where aid delivery has long been fraught with complications. Aleppo province is divided into government-, Kurdish- and rebel-held areas.

Those regional animosities have largely remained since the disaster, fueling accusations that life-saving aid is being politicized.

“These politically motivated interruptions of critical aid have had a tragic impact, particularly for search and recovery teams who need fuel to run their equipment,” said Aya Majzoub, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Majzoub said all parties to the conflict should ensure that civilians “have uninterrupted access to assistance.”

The United Nations and other humanitarian agencies have also criticized hardline Islamist forces in the north for blocking aid from government-held areas.

Until now, most aid to opposition-held areas of Syria has come through three border crossings with neighboring Turkey – two of which were exceptionally opened with the approval of President Bashar al-Assad.

Aid arrived in government-controlled areas by air, truck and sea.

(Reporting by Maya Gebeili; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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