Syria Ceasefire Holds But War Of Words Strands Aid Convoy

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Written By Mohsen Salami

The Russian-US brokered ceasefire seems to be holding in Syria – but a battle of words between rival warlords is stopping vital food and medical aid from reaching besieged civilians.

A United Nations convoy with enough food and medicine to last 40,000 people a month is held up in a no man’s land between the Turkish border and the city of Aleppo.

The UN blames a struggle for power between rival militias for the delay, while the Syrian government is also trying to hijack arrangements for delivering supplies by insisting only aid cleared by Damascus can proceed through military lines.

The UN claims at least 250,000 civilians, including many thousands of children, are trapped in the ruins of Aleppo that are collapsing around them as the army and militias battle to control the city.

Civilians are marching in the streets demanding the UN deliver the aid destined for them before the fragile ceasefire breaks down.

Rolling truce

The Russians and Americans say the truce is holding, even though the Russians argue that rebels have opened fire more than 60 times.

The worst incident, they say, was in Aleppo, where three civilians died and seven were injured in exchanges of artillery fire.

The UN convoy is stuck in the desert about 25 miles from the city.

Another Russian sponsored aid convoy has reached the government held zones of Homs, another besieged city.

The ceasefire is renewed every 48 hours and if the agreement holds until Monday (September 19), the US and Russians will carry out joint air strikes against terrorists, such as the Islamic State.

Warplanes strike ISIS

Russia has announced warplanes struck ISIS positions near Palmyra. The air force claims to have killed 250 fighters gathering for an attack on the city, which was captured from ISIS earlier this year.

The Syrian war has lasted for more than five years.

In that time, close to 5 million refugees have left the country and another 7 million have left their homes to move to safer neighbourhoods.

Human rights groups reckon between 300,000 and 430,000 people, mostly civilians, have died at the hands of the government and rebel fighters.

President Assad looks to be the real winner of the peace as Russia and the US will turn their firepower on his biggest rivals while his army enjoys a truce with militias based in the north of the country.