UN delegation enters encircled Darayya: ‘We were late’


April 17, 2016

 

A United Nations delegation entered the city of Darayya on Saturday for the first time since Syrian government forces encircled the rebel-held Damascus suburb in November 2012, local activists announced.

UN Special Envoy spokeswoman Khawla Mattar led the delegation, which conducted an assessment of the city’s needs but did not deliver any aid.

“I would like to apologize in the name of the entire UN Syria team,” Mattar told residents in a video published by the Local Council of Darayya on Sunday.

UN delegation tours encircled city of Darayya on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Local Council of Darayya

“We were late but today we have seen the extent of this tragedy and suffering,” said Mattar.

No aid has reached Darayya, located next to the Mezze military airport southwest of Damascus, since regime forces encircled the city more than three years ago.

One of the terms of a “cessation of hostilities” brokered by the United States and Russia last February stipulated that both Syrian regime forces and opposition groups “allow immediate humanitarian assistance to reach all people in need.”

While aid deliveries reached multiple besieged areas across Syria in the past two months, none have come to Darayya, currently controlled by Free Syrian Army affiliate Liwa Shuhada al-Islam and Ajnad a-Sham, an Islamist brigade.

Since 2012, more than 6,600 regime barrel bombs have fallen on Darayya. The scale of the destruction is apocalyptic, as seen in Russian drone footage shot in late January.

“The delegation said they could not bring aid into the city without the regime’s approval,” local council member Mohamed Shahada told Syria Direct on Sunday.

“They said they would pass on what they had seen in the city.”

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