Western powers have criticized Assad regime, accusing its forces of dropping barrel bombs on the Syrian town of Darayya just hours after it received its first food aid in almost four years.
Trucks from the United Nations and Syrian Arab Red Crescent brought a month’s supply of food for 2,400 people for the first time since 2012.
Darayya’s city council said 28 barrel bombs were dropped from helicopters hours after the delivery, preventing the aid from being distributed to residents.
A member of the Darayya City Council said there had been “intense random barrel bombing” of the area over three hours until midday, hindering the distribution of the aid delivered overnight by the UN and Syrian Red Crescent convoy.
Daraya has been under siege since November 2012 and has witnessed some of the worst bombardment during the Syrian crisis.
— Reema Hibrawi (@rhibrawi) June 10, 2016
Western powers condemn
Jean-Marc Ayrault, France’s foreign minister, accused Assad regime of “extraordinary duplicity” over the bombings, which came just as aid workers were beginning to distribute supplies to thousands of desperate people.
Ayrault said he was “outraged beyond words”, declaring the end of an already shaky ceasefire and calling for world powers to meet.
Mark Toner, US state department spokesman, said “such attacks are unacceptable in any circumstance, but in this case they also hampered the delivery and distribution of badly needed assistance”.
Matthew Rycroft, the UK’s ambassador to the UN, described the bombing as “atrocious”.
“The international community is united around the obligations of the Assad regime,” he said.
The UN estimates that there are currently 592,700 people living under siege in Syria, with the vast majority of them – about 452,700 people – besieged by Assad regime.
Dire situation in Darayya
Malnutrition has been reported in the rebel-held town, which is only 12 km (7 miles) from Damascus, where a first convoy with non-food supplies was allowed to enter on June 1.
Some 1.9 tonnes of medicines for chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes as well as antibiotics and vitamins, from the World Health Organization were on the convoy, spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said.
However, the Assad regime did not approve delivery of three burns kits that would have been enough to treat about 30 people with dressings and pain killers, rejecting them from the approved list, Jasarevic said.
“However of course we call for unconditional, unimpeded and sustained access to all people in need, wherever they are, but in particular besieged and hard-to-reach areas where we have still about 4.6 million people living under these conditions in Syria,” he added.
However, the food supplies would not last a month and the U.N. had underestimated the number of people living there at present, the local council and a monitoring group reported.
It cited the Darayya local council as saying the supplies brought in would not last two weeks. The council says the population of Darayya is over 8,000, – more than double the U.N. estimates.
Council spokesman Hossam Ayyash said it was unclear how the aid, which would cater for only a quarter of the besieged population, would be distributed.
“Of course we are grateful to the team that brought in the supplies, but unfortunately they are not sufficient. We don’t know what decision will be taken (on how to distribute the aid), but it won’t be able to be shared out among everyone who’s here,” Ayyash said.