Food aid has been delivered to the Damascus suburb of Darayya for the first time since it came under siege in 2012, a development that the UN and the World Food Programme hope will presage a new willingness by the Syrian government to allow aid delivery to besieged towns.
Bashar al-Assad’s government has frequently promised to allow aid delivery but then in practice refused to do so. In talks this week the government told the UN it was willing to allow access to 15 of the 19 besieged areas. There has been scepticism about the credibility of the promise and doubt about the degree of pressure being put on the Syrian government by Russia.
The rebel-held suburb of Darayya, south-west of the Syrian capital, has been under siege since November 2012 and has witnessed some of the worst bombardment of the civil war, now in its sixth year. The UN estimates that 4,000-8,000 people live in Darayya.
The delivery of food supplies late on Thursday night came a week after a joint convoy of the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Syrian Arab Red Crescent reached Darayya and delivered medicines, vaccines, baby formula and “nutritional items for children”– but no food.