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US says last aid route from Turkey into Syria must stay open

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The US envoy to the UN said Thursday the sole border crossing to deliver aid into Syria must remain open amid Russian threats to veto a resolution to protect it, Agence France-Presse reported.

Syrian-ally Russia could block the UN Security Council resolution, which expires on July 10, and observers say it is using it as a bargaining chip in the face of punishing sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Bab al-Hawa crossing near Turkey’s Cilvegözü border post in the south has been the only point of entry for UN aid into Syria for the past two years.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Thursday it was imperative that the opening stay open.

“We have to extend this border crossing, we have to continue to provide this assistance,” said Thomas-Greenfield from a UN logistics center in Reyhanlı, near the Turkey-Syria border.

Nearly 10,000 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid passed through the crossing last year bound for the Idlib region, the last rebel bastion in Syria and home to around 3 million people.

“We know that the situation is already dire there, that people are suffering now,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

“It’s going to increase the suffering, it’s going to increase the number of people who will displace and possibly even the number of people who may try to cross the border into Turkey.”

She was in Reyhanlı to meet with NGO and UN agency representatives who are working to provide assistance to Syrians.

Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, said on May 20 that Moscow saw no reason to keep the crossing open, saying it violates Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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