Aid deliveries in Homs to start Friday, US says

Agence France-Presse

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The deal should allow the delivery of supplies to around 2,500 trapped civilians

A Syrian man looks for herbs to eat with his family in the central Syrian city of Homs on February 1, 2014. AFP Photo

WASHINGTON, DC, USA – A deal between Syria and the United Nations to get aid to the besieged town of Homs will begin early Friday, a US official said, urging the regime to allow more humanitarian relief.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki welcomed Thursday’s deal to get much-needed relief into the old city and evacuate civilians.

“We understand the operations will begin tomorrow, Friday morning, and will include a local humanitarian pause while the evacuations take place and while the food and other humanitarian assistance is delivered.”

But she insisted access should not be used as “a bargaining chip” and that “an evacuation is not a substitute for the safe, regular and unfettered delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need.”

It was a “tragedy” that civilians were forced to leave their homes in Homs to find food, she said, adding that “the regime must provide unhindered access to humanitarian workers.”

“We should not be giving credit to a regime just for providing food for a few days to people who are starving, given that’s the right moral thing to do,” she said.

“This is something they should have been doing all along.”

A week after the situation in besieged districts of Homs was discussed at peace talks in Geneva, Syrian state news agency SANA said agreement had been reached to allow aid in and safe passage out for civilians.

The deal clears the way for delivering lifesaving supplies for about 2,500 trapped civilians, with activists saying people have survived on little more than olives for weeks. –

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