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Syria’s Red Crescent, UN begin delivering French aid


Syrian relief workers and the United Nations began distributing humanitarian assistance provided by France to the battered region of Eastern Ghouta on Thursday, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent announced.

The organization said on Twitter “3,840 blankets, 572 kitchen kits and tents from (the) French aid,” as well as 30 medical kits, were being handed out late Thursday morning.

Pictures published by SARC show a convoy of their trucks and UN vehicles, as well as blankets being handed out to a child and adults.

A source from the organization told AFP a total of seven trucks entered Douma, the main town in Ghouta, and unloaded the aid there.

Residents of Eastern Ghouta had faced five years of crippling siege during which even the most basic food and medicines were virtually unaffordable, forcing around 400,000 people to rely on UN aid deliveries.

SARC did not say exactly who or how many people would benefit from the latest aid delivery.

The assistance was part of a humanitarian aid operation coordinated between Moscow and Paris, the first such mission between Russia and a Western country.

More than 40 tonnes of medical aid and humanitarian supplies were loaded onto a Russian military cargo plane in the central French city of Chateauroux early Saturday.

The supplies, including medicine, clothes and tents, was flown to the Russian military base in Syria’s Hmeimim before being brought to the outskirts of Damascus on Thursday.

France had said it had secured “guarantees” from Russia that the Syrian regime would not obstruct the distribution of the aid, and that it would not be misappropriated or used for political purposes.

“This humanitarian operation, conducted jointly with Russia, is being implemented under the supervision of the United Nations in Syria,” a French foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

Syrian troops recaptured Ghouta from rebels in April, after a blistering assault which killed hundreds and ended in a surrender deal that transferred tens of thousands of opposition fighters and civilians out of the area.

Thousands stayed in the suburb and others have returned in recent weeks, although many of Ghouta’s towns