Saving Syria: massive air drops of aid planned

Saving Syria: massive air drops of aid planned
By Catherine Hardy with REUTERS
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The ceasefire will be monitored round-the-clock and much-needed humanitarian aid will be delivered to besieged areas.

  • Talks about talks on Syria in Vienna
  • Russia and US agree to reinforce ceasefire
  • Massive air drops of aid planned
  • Will the Syrian opposition come back to the table?

What is happening?


Diplomats have described the latest round of talks on Syria in Vienna as “serious and engaged”.

No date was set for a fresh round of peace talks for the conflict-torn country – but that was never the aim.

Russia and the US did agree, however, to work together to monitor the shaky ceasefire signed in February.

#Kerry , asked whether he has leverage over #Assad , replies, gesturing to #Russia FM #Lavrov: “Standing to my right is leverage.”

— Douglas Herbert (@dougf24) May 17, 2016

Deliveries of humanitarian aid will also be pushed through, by mass air drops if necessary, in besieged areas.

Have they set a date for fresh peace talks?


No date was set for further peace talks between the warring parties in Syria.

The UN Special Envoy to Syria made the announcement at the press conference following Tuesday’s meeting.

Vienna: Joint press briefing with UN</a> Special Envoy de Mistura, Lavrov & Kerry happening now <a href="">#SyriaTalks</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; UN Geneva (UNGeneva) May 17, 2016

Staffan de Mistura was flanked by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Did they agree on anything concrete?


Russia and the US will try to reinforce the patchy ceasefire imposed across Syria, which is threatened by ongoing violence.

“None of us, no one, can be remotely satisfied with the situation in Syria. It is deeply disturbing and we are all concerned about the levels of violence that broke out in recent days, challenging the cessation. Russia has worked closely with the United States to upgrade our ability, which now has a 24-hour basis in Geneva, with high-level people working consistently,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters.

“Violence has decreased since February when the cessation of hostilities was declared. Humanitarian access has improved although we have to do better there and in the framework of the political process we had another round of talks in Geneva chaired by Mr Steffan De Mistura and his team,” added Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

They will work together on a technical level to monitor the ceasefire and identify who is responsible for any violations.

What about humanitarian aid?

UN envoy raises prospect of air drops to all besieged areas in Syria, including Daraya, which is blocked by government forces. This is huge.

— Alison Meuse (@AliTahmizian) May 17, 2016

Mass deliveries of humanitarian aid will be pushed through.

This will include thousands of air drops to besieged areas not reachable by road, like Daraya on the outskirts of Damascus.

The UN said last month that Syria’s government was refusing demands to deliver aid to hundreds of thousands of people.

Did they say anything about President Assad?

Washington and Moscow remain deeply divided over the fate of President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia and Iran back the Syrian president. However, the US and other western powers maintain he can play no part in a future government in the country.


What is the aim of the Vienna meeting?

The parties involved want to strengthen the fragile truce in Syria and boost humanitarian aid to areas where it is needed.

It is hoped a positive outcome to the talks will encourage the Syrian opposition to resume negotiations on a political settlement to end the conflict.

Syrian opposition walks out of Geneva peace talks

— dwnews (@dwnews) April 20, 2016

The opposition pulled out of the last round of talks in April in protest at the increasing violence.

A surge in bloodshed in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city before the conflict, wrecked the partial “cessation of hostilities” sponsored by Washington and Moscow.

This had originally lead to the UN-brokered indirect talks to take place in Geneva.


Who is at the meeting in Vienna?

Neither the Syrian government nor opposition are taking part in Tuesday’s talks.

  • US
  • UK
  • France
  • Germany
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Turkey
  • Russia
  • Iran

How many people have been killed in the Syrian conflict?

The uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011.

  • More than 250,000 have been killed
  • 11 million have been displaced

The conflict has created the world’s worst refugee crisis and allowed the growth in influence of ISIL.

It has also drawn in regional and global powers.

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