UN welcomes Syria decision to open Turkey aid corridors

UN welcomes Syria decision to open Turkey aid corridors

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has agreed to allow United Nations aid deliveries to opposition-held northwest Syria through two border crossings from Turkey for three months, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

Assad agreed to open the crossings of Bab Al-Salam and Al Ra'ee, Guterres said in a statement after UN aid chief Martin Griffiths met with the Syrian president in Damascus on Monday. Griffiths briefed the UN Security Council of Assad's decision during a closed-door meeting.

Assad's agreement means the United Nations could now use a total of three border crossings from Turkey to reach the northwest of Syria.

The UN already has a Security Council mandate to use the Bab al-Hawa border crossing. It has been using that route since 2014 to deliver aid to millions of people in need in the northwest. The Security Council agreed the mandate after the Syrian government opposed the measure.

"As the toll of the Feb. 6 earthquake continues to mount, delivering food, health, nutrition, protection, shelter, winter supplies and other life-saving supplies to all the millions of people affected is of the utmost urgency," said Guterres.

"Opening these crossing points - along with facilitating humanitarian access, accelerating visa approvals and easing travel between hubs - will allow more aid to go in, faster," he added.