Syria, allies rebuke UN call for extension of cross-border corridors

The Damascus government and its allies have criticized a UN call for the extension of the cross-border aid mechanism in Syria, saying it hampers the government’s efforts to restore stability in the war-torn country.

During the UN Security Council’s monthly meeting on Syria on Monday, the Arab country’s permanent representative to the UN, Bassam Sabbagh, was backed by envoys from Russia, China, and Iran in calling for respect his country’s sovereignty.

“The [Syrian] government is enhancing its efforts to restore security and stability and overcome the repercussions of the crisis through reconciliation and work to repair the infrastructure,” Sabbagh said, according to an official transcript of the meeting.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called for the Security Council to extend its authorization of cross-border aid into northwest Syria by a year.

President Bashar al-Assad’s government has repeatedly denounced the cross-border mechanism as a violation of Syria’s sovereignty and a tool to advance Western agendas in the country. Moscow and Beijing have generally agreed. They argue that aid to opposition-held territories should instead be routed “cross-line” from Damascus.

Addressing the UN Security Council meeting, Sabbagh reiterated that Western countries have refused to abide by resolution 2585 in different ways and reneged on their promises to increase the delivery of humanitarian aid from within the country.

“Western countries have, both directly and indirectly, refused to implement resolution 2585, reneging on commitments to enhance the delivery of humanitarian aid from within Syria,” he said.

“They continue to focus on the cross-border mechanism — evident in the disparity between the number of cross-border and cross-line convoys — and propagate misinformation while fighting the implementation of the resolution on the ground,” he said.

Iran, Russia, China back Syria’s sovereignty in delivering aid

Russia’s deputy ambassador, Dmitry Polyanskiy, for his part, said that Moscow is “convinced” that humanitarian aid can reach “all regions of Syria” via Damascus.

Recalling that only five cross-line convoys have occurred in the past year, he asked whether this was the Council’s intention when it adopted resolution 2585 (2021).

He too pointed to Israeli air strikes on Damascus airport, which forced a humanitarian route — on which the lives of more than 2 million people depend — to close, saying the lack of reaction by “those parties who are so thrilled about humanitarian deliveries to Syria” is astonishing.

He also regretted that the Secretary-General’s report does not pin responsibility on the United States for its unilateral sanctions and ongoing occupation of northeast Syria.

Similarly, Zhang Jun, who serves as the Permanent Representative of China to the UN, said that while resolution 2585 has played a role in helping Syria, it has not been fully and effectively implemented.

He, too, underscored the importance of respecting the sovereignty of Syria and its government’s ownership of cross-line delivery, describing it as the “primary avenue of assistance.”

He called for the immediate lifting of unilateral sanctions on Syria, which have cost the country tens of billions of dollars.

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