Syria extends permission on post-quake aid border crossings for 3 months

·1 min read
Fadel El Jaber, stands on rubble of the building his son lived with his family, that collapsed from last month's deadly earthquake in the town of Salqin

(Reuters) -Syria has extended permission for the United Nations to use two additional border crossings for post-earthquake aid for three more months, a Syrian official said on Saturday.

Syria "has decided to extend the permission it granted to the U.N. and its specialised agencies to use the two border crossings of Bab Alsalama and al-Ra'i for an additional period of three months ending on 13 August," Bassam Sabbagh, Syria's U.N. ambassador, said in a tweet.

"This decision is based on Syria's keenness on enhancing stability and improving the living and humanitarian situation of all Syrians, and comes within its efforts to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to all those in need in all Syria," he added.

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad initially agreed to open the two crossings for three months starting on Feb. 13, a week after an earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria. Parts of the northwest are held by groups opposed to Assad in the 12-year-long civil war.

The U.N. on Friday asked Syria's government to extend its approval for the two crossings to deliver aid into opposition-held zones, a spokesperson said.

The U.N. said in a statement on Saturday that Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad conveyed to the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, Martin Griffiths, the decision to allow the U.N. to use the crossings for an additional three months.

(Reporting by Maya Gebeily; Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols at the U.N.; Editing by Jason Neely, Mark Potter and Leslie Adler)