Aid convoys in Syria are said to be on their way to deliver supplies to people trapped in besieged areas.
Lorries have been seen leaving Damascus after the Syrian government approved access to seven areas deemed by the 17-member International Syria Support Group to be most in need of relief.
They include Madaya, the town surrounded by government troops where people have been dying of starvation.
The Syrian state news agency said a convoy of 35 trucks carrying humanitarian aid had entered the besieged area of Muadhamiya in the Damascus suburbs on Wednesday.
Earlier, the Syrian Red Crescent said at least 100 trucks were preparing to set off.
SYRedCrescent</a> +100 trucks loaded with <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/humanitarian_aid?src=hash">#humanitarian_aid</a> towards <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Madaya?src=hash">#Madaya</a> ,<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Zabadani?src=hash">#Zabadani</a> & <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Moadamiya?src=hash">#Moadamiya</a> & <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Kefraya?src=hash">#Kefraya</a> & <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Foua?src=hash">#Foua</a> <a href="https://t.co/ovbCNjG9rw">pic.twitter.com/ovbCNjG9rw</a></p>— Syrian Red Crescent (SYRedCrescent) February 17, 2016
The Syrian Red Crescent is coordinating the aid operation with the UN, which estimates almost half a million people live in areas besieged either by ISIL fighters, rebels or government troops.
The convoys are heading for rebel-held towns near the capital, and pro-government villages in the north of the country where a medical team will also be sent in, according to the Red Crescent.
The seven areas named by the UN are:
- Deir el-Zour, a city in the east under siege from so-called Islamic State
- Foah and Kefraya, in northern Idlib province, besieged by rebels
- Madaya, Muadhamiya, Kafr Batna and Zabadani, all in the Damascus area besieged by government forces
Last week Russian media reported that a joint Russian-Syrian operation dropped humanitarian aid to the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, under siege from ISIS.
Meanwhile on the military front Russian air strikes have been backing Syrian forces attacking rebel-held areas. Moscow has rejected accusations of war crimes after dozens of people were killed in strikes on medical facilities.
The UN’s peace envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura is to hold more talks with government officials over aid access amid a planned truce.
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