UN aid convoy reaches Syrian refugee camp near Jordan border
November 03 2018 05:12 PM
Rukban refugee camp
Rukban refugee camp

Dpa/Cairo

A UN convoy carrying much-needed humanitarian assistance arrived Saturday at a refugee camp in the Syrian desert near the Jordanian border, a war monitor reported.

The convoy is the first to reach the Rukban refugee camp, where thousands are living, since April 2017, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights added.

Several trucks carrying food and medical supplies entered the site.

The convoy was escorted by the Russian military, a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

At least 60,000 civilians and rebels are living in the camp amid miserable conditions after supply routes were cut off by government forces and their allies, according to the Britain-based watchdog.

Last month, the United Nations warned that the stranded refugees in Rukban need critical access to basic services as winter months approach.

Five people, including two children, recently died at the camp due to harsh living conditions, according to local activists.

In June 2017, Jordan declared the Rukban area a military zone and closed the border after an attack claimed by the Islamic State militant group targeted a nearby border post, killing six soldiers.

Rukban refugees include civilians, who had fled areas in eastern Syria after they were overrun by Islamic State.

The Observatory also reported Saturday that a US-led alliance fighting Islamic State has mounted intense air and shelling strikes against the radical militia's last pocket in eastern Syria.

The alliance has targeted Islamic State positions on the east of the Euphrates river with hundreds of missiles and shells since late Friday.

The bombardment was the coalition's fiercest against Islamic State in the area since October 10 when the militant group started a series of counter-attacks there against US-backed Syrian fighters.

No casualties were reported.

Last week, Islamic State operatives, taking advantage of bad weather, launched a string of attacks east of the Euphrates and regained territory they had earlier lost there.

The alliance's ongoing offensive comes days after the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led militia allied with the United States, suspended their fight against Islamic State in eastern Syria due to Turkish attacks on Kurdish positions in the war-torn country.

Ankara considers Kurdish militias terrorist organizations linked to Kurdish insurgents in Turkey.

In September, the SDF said its forces had started the final stage of their campaign against Islamic State in Syria's eastern province of Deir al-Zour.

The SDF has played a major role in fighting Islamic State in Syria, taking over most of the group's strongholds in the provinces of al-Raqqa and Deir al-Zour.

Islamic State still controls pockets in eastern and southern Syria.



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