NEW YORK (Dispatches) – The United Nations Security Council has approved aid deliveries to Syria from Turkey, but only after caving in to Russian demand to close one of the two access points into the war-torn country.
Following a week of division and seven ballots, the UNSC on Saturday passed a proposal submitted by Germany and Belgium allowing the use of the Bab al-Hawa crossing point for one year.
Western nations say the closure of the second access point will cut a lifeline for 1.3 million Syrians in the country’s northwest.
Moscow and Beijing argue that the mechanism violates Syria’s sovereignty and that aid should be channeled through the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Authorization for the continued transport of aid to Syria, a system in place since 2014, expired on Friday night.
The 15-member UNSC had been deadlocked, with most members pitted against Syrian allies Russia and China over the issue.
Russia and China, which hold veto power at the council, wanted to halve the approved Turkey border crossings to one, arguing that northwest Syria could be reached from within the country.
In the session, the measure was approved by 12 of 15 members in the council’s fifth vote this week on the issue, with Russia, China and the Dominican Republic abstaining.
Adopted in 2014, Security Resolution 2165 enabled UN agencies and their implementing partners to send humanitarian assistance across Jordan, Iraq and Turkey to the areas controlled by anti-Damascus militants in Syria.
In January 2020, the UNSC adopted a resolution extending the cross-border aid mechanism for six months but reducing the number of checkpoints from four to two.
Russia believes that at a time when the Syrian government retakes more regions, international aid to the militant-held areas can be delivered in coordination with Damascus.