Urgent aid needed in north of Syria

  • 11/02/2016
Urgent aid needed in north of Syria

About 50,000 people have fled an upsurge in fighting in northern Syria, and require urgent deliveries of food and water despite some supply lines being cut, says the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Swiss-based agency said on Wednesday (local time) it had delivered food for 10,000 families and water for about 10,000 people, mainly in northern areas of Aleppo province, adding: "More aid, including medicines, will be delivered in the coming days."

In Aleppo city, regular water supplies have been cut, leaving residents dependent on more than 100 water distribution points set up by the Red Cross, Syrian Arab Red Crescent and local water boards.

"There is also a general shortage of fuel and electric power," the statement said.

Meanwhile at The Hague, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said Syrian government forces backed by Russia are carrying out a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing around Aleppo.

On Wednesday, Davutoglu said while Turkey would not close its doors, the priority was providing aid to fleeing people inside Syria.

"One of the aims of the latest attacks is to conduct ethnic cleansing. Ethnic cleansing in Syria and Aleppo aimed at only leaving regime supporters behind is being conducted by the Syrian regime and Russia in a very deliberate way," he said.

"Every refugee that we accept helps their ethnic cleansing policy, but we will continue to accept (refugees)."

Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air strikes and Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, have launched a major offensive in the countryside around Aleppo.

The United Nations warned on Tuesday hundreds of thousands of civilians could be cut off from food if rebel-held parts of the city are encircled. Both the UN and the European Union have urged Turkey to open its border.

Davutoglu said it was hypocritical of those who had failed to stop Russian air strikes in Syria to now ask Turkey to keep its border open, pointing out that it had taken in more than 2.6 million refugees during the five-year war.

Davutoglu also accused the Syrian Kurdish PYD of attacking civilians in collaboration with Russian forces, and said it was guilty of war crimes.

The United States sees the PYD as a useful ally in the fight against Islamic State in Syria, but Ankara views it as a terrorist group with deep ideological and logistical links to Kurdish militants fighting in its own southeast.