UNSC resolution not required to open two additional checkpoints: Syria
This comes in light of recent calls issued by the US to request an urgent vote on a resolution at the Security Council to open two additional crossings in militant-held Syrian borders with Turkey.
Permanent Representative Bassam Sabbagh told reporters on Tuesday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's decision to open two additional border crossings in the militant-held northern areas to earthquake-affected Syrians does not require a UN Security Council resolution.
"I think it [UNSC resolution] is not needed. I think it's a decision made by our leadership. It’s a sovereign decision, and it is an agreement made between Syria and the United Nations," Sabbagh said.
This comes in light of recent calls by the US to request an urgent vote on a resolution at the Security Council to open two additional crossings since UN convoys were restricted to only one crossing into Syria - as per a Security Council resolution.
The Syrian leader had previously condemned the delivery of aid via the only operable crossing, Saraqab, which also happens to be located in a militant-held area.
Al-Assad stressed that aid must be coordinated with the Syrian government and delivered from government-controlled areas instead of rebel areas. But earlier today, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres hailed al-Assad's decision to greenlight the opening of two additional Turkish-Syrian crossings.
Read next: UK 'may' ease sanctions for aid delivery to Syria after earthquake
In a statement, Guterres wrote, "I welcome the decision today by President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to open the two crossing points of Bab Al-Salam and Al Ra’ee from Türkiye to north-west Syria for an initial period of three months to allow for the timely delivery of humanitarian aid," the statement says.
"As the toll of the 6 February 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," the statement added.
"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," it concludes.
UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths admitted on Sunday that the UN "failed the people" in Syria after militant groups refused to allow aid into quake-affected areas, citing "issues with approval" with certain takfiri groups, including Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
As per sources, they did so for politically motivated reasons, including aims at demonizing the Syrian government.
Damascus was readying to send aid convoys to quake-hitten areas, but militant groups in the North held up the convoys meant for Syria's North. "The armed groups want to garner international support for themselves alone under the pretext that the Syrian government would not allow aid to make it into their areas," a source told Al Mayadeen.
#HTS refused approval for the #Syrian government humanitarian aid’s entry to #Idlib via Saraqeb. Negotiations 1 week— vanessa beeley (@VanessaBeeley) February 13, 2023
Local activists said that #HTS demanded $10,000 for every truck to allow entry
This is how #Idlib terrorists distribute humanitarian aid.@IbrahimDSY1 pic.twitter.com/odEUCKehCr
Read more: Syria earthquake: death toll exceeds 4500, damaged building warning