The Latest: UN aid deliveries under way to Damascus suburb
Mar. 07, 2016
MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Syria's conflict (all times local):
The United Nations says aid deliveries are under way to the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Kafr Batna.
U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said a humanitarian convoy reached three areas in Kafr Batna with food and health assistance for 20,000 people on Friday. He said deliveries to the remaining three areas on Monday will provide aid for more than 16,000 people.
Haq said U.N. humanitarian agencies report that the relative calm for almost two weeks under the cessation of hostilities agreement has offered hope to the 6.5 million people displaced inside Syria and more than 4.5 million people who fled the country.
He said U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura still plans to resume talks between the government and opposition on March 9, even though some participants won't arrive until March 12-13.
Warplanes have bombed a fuel depot in an opposition-held town in northern Syria, killing at least 12 people, monitoring groups say.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the bodies found in the wreckage in the depot in Idlib province, which was struck Monday, are burned beyond recognition. It says it is too early to tell if the casualties are civilians or militants.
The Local Coordination Committees, an opposition network, puts the toll at 15 dead, all civilians.
Violence has eased in the country since sides agreed to a partial cease-fire nine days ago. Under the agreement, parties are still allowed to target organizations the U.N. has deemed terrorist groups, including the Islamic State group and Syria's al-Qaida affiliate, the Nusra Front.
Riad Hijab, the head of the High Negotiations Committee, the main opposition coalition, called the attack "a massacre."
The head of the main Syrian opposition coalition says they will decide later this week on whether to take part in indirect peace talks in Geneva scheduled to resume Wednesday.
Riad Hijab, head of the Higher Negotiations Committee, acknowledged on Monday that Russian bombardment has dropped following the partial cease-fire, which came into effect Feb. 27. Yet he added that President Bashar Assad's government has not released any detainees and said the flow of aid to besieged rebel-held areas was too small.
He said that "unfortunately" all Russian airstrikes had been targeting moderate rebels.
U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura has said talks will resume on Wednesday.
Hijab told a group of journalists working for Western media organizations by telephone that the opposition will not accept any role for Assad during the 18-month transitional period
Russia says it is aiming to step up humanitarian aid to Syria's war-battered people by opening up its military facilities in Syria for international aid cargos.
Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Monday that Russia "is ready to provide all necessary help to international and foreign organizations in the delivery of humanitarian aid."
He said this assistance will include allowing the unloading and temporary storage of aid cargos at the Russian naval base in Tartus, as well as receiving and storing aid at the air base in Hemeimeem.
Konashenkov said Russia is also ready to provide vehicles to help deliver cargos from Tartus and Hemeimeem to Syrian regions in need.