Assad may allow ground aid to Darayya: US

Assad may allow ground aid to Darayya: US

US skeptical whether Assad will allow aid via ground into besieged town

By Esra Kaymak Avci

WASHINGTON (AA) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may on Friday approve delivery for humanitarian aid to the besieged town of Darayya, the U.S. said Wednesday.

"We're obviously skeptical of these reports but again, we have heard that they may allow them," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said during a press briefing.

Even if Assad allows the aid in, Toner said, the U.S. calls on him to allow all humanitarian assistance to reach all besieged areas as designated by the UN, and not the "areas that the regime deems are allowable.

"Because the regime continues to, for lack of a better word, cherry-pick or take out medical supplies and food supplies from some of these convoys," he said.

Toner also blamed Russia for not taking "demonstrable steps" to use its leverage with Assad for the aid delivery following a consensus statement of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) on May 17 in Vienna.

"We're looking to Russia to exert the influence that it claims to have on the Syrian regime," he said.

He added that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was in Vienna when the ISSG made the call in May for the delivery of humanitarian aid by air if ground access was not available.

Moreover, the spokesman suggested that Russia, which already has air assets on the ground in Syria and the permission of the Syrian government to fly, could conduct air drops.

"They are on the ground with air assets in Syria and are able to carry out these kinds of operations," he said.

In case of the Syrian regime continued to deny ground access of aid delivery, the UN World Food Program is currently planning appropriate use of air assets for the delivery of aid.

Residents of Darayya have not received food since 2012 and have been brutalized by the regime that has since blocked food and basic supplies to the region.

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