Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has refused to allow humanitarian convoys into the city of Aleppo, breaking a central condition of the newly brokered ceasefire between the U.S. and Russia.
“We have a problem,” UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura told reporters Thursday. Mistura elaborated that the UN has nearly 40 trucks sitting in Turkey with humanitarian aid, but Assad has refused to issue paperwork allowing them to pass into Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the ceasefire deal with his Russian counterpart in Geneva Sept. 10. The agreement stipulates that beginning Monday morning, all parties in Syria will begin a “genuine reduction of violence,” for a period of one week.
Assad’s refusal is a direct violation of the ceasefire agreement. The U.S. and Russia have refused to release the details of the agreement, but information obtained by the Associated Press revealed Syria must “allow rapid, safe, unhindered and sustained humanitarian access to all people in need.”
Assad’s refusal to allow humanitarian aid convoys is not his first violation of the ceasefire. The regime reportedly dropped barrel bombs on rebel-held areas of Aleppo just minutes after the ceasefire began.
The largest rebel group in Syria stated unequivocally Sunday it would not cooperate with the ceasefire agreement. A statement from other rebel groups said the ceasefire will “leave room for the regime to take advantage of the situation to achieve military gains that they would have been incapable of achieving before.”
The rebel group maintains control over several neighborhoods in Aleppo, and the Assad regime likely does not want to alleviate suffering in rebel territory.
Aleppo is the largest city inside Syria, and served as the country’s commercial capital before the civil war. Assad likely hopes to bleed rebels of any support. Before the ceasefire, his forces frequently targeted humanitarian, medical, and other aid facilities to accelerate their surrender.
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