Aid delivered to Syria’s Ghouta amid fighting

The Associated Press

This photo released by the Syrian Red Crescent shows Syrian Red Crescent trucks carrying humanitarian aid to be distributed in Douma, eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, on Friday.

The Associated Press BEIRUT (AP) — An aid convoy crossed into the embattled rebel-held suburbs of Damascus Friday, delivering desperately needed aid despite heavy fighting that broke out “extremely close” to the convoy and renewed airstrikes by the Syrian government.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said the close-range fighting came despite security guarantees from the parties involved in the conflict that humanitarian aid could enter the town of Douma, in eastern Ghouta.

“We were taken aback by the fighting that broke out despite guarantees from the parties involved in this conflict that humanitarians could enter Douma, in Eastern Ghouta,” said ICRC regional director Robert Mardini.

“As more aid is needed in the coming days, it is absolutely critical that these assurances be renewed and respected in the future,” Mardini said. “Aid workers should not have to risk their lives to deliver assistance.”

Late Friday, Syrian state TV said a group of opposition fighters and their families managed to reach areas controlled by the government — the first to leave the rebel-held district since a new wave of violence broke out last month.

State TV showed 13 bearded men it said had earlier handed themselves over to authorities boarding a bus. It added that they were searched by troops before being taken to where journalists and paramedics were gathering near the bus.

In the report, Russian troops were seen aboard the bus.

Russia, a main backer of President Bashar Assad, had offered a safe passage to opposition fighters who surrender in eastern Ghouta.

State TV on Friday also reported that “dozens of civilians” would likely get out of eastern Ghouta, in addition to 13 gunmen who had turned themselves in, via the Wafideen safe corridor designated by the government. The channel has been reporting since last week that rebels have prevented civilians from leaving. It added that insurgents targeted the Wafideen corridor on Friday afternoon with bullets and mortar shells.Speech

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