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UN chief says no choice but to keep shipping in aid across Syria's border

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United Nations (United States) (AFP)

The United Nations has no other choice than to keep on shipping humanitarian aid across Syria's borders and over front lines in the country's civil war, according to a report submitted Monday by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the Security Council.

The members of the Security Council are debating the renewal of the mission, whose mandate expires at the start of next year.

"It is in no one's interest to block this resolution," one diplomat told AFP, asking not to be named, although some diplomats noted the propensity of Russia, the main backer of the Syrian regime, to push for more government control over the war-torn country.

Four entry points into Syria -- two from Turkey, one from Jordan and one from Iraq -- are currently used to ferry aid to in those in need. Negotiations are underway to open a fifth crossing, on the Turkish border with northern Syria, to cope with the extra needs created by a Turkish offensive in the area earlier this year.

"The United Nations does not have an alternative means of reaching people in need in the areas in which cross-border assistance is being provided," Guterres said in the report.

"Humanitarian assistance provided by United Nations agencies included food for an average of 4.3 million people in need each month and more than 1.3 million health and medical treatments to people throughout the country," Guterres noted.

"Cross-border assistance ... remained a vital part of the humanitarian response," he added.

The report said that the overall situation in Syria deteriorated even further in 2019 and added that everything should be done to avoid a military offensive in the northwestern area of Idlib, an enclave outside of government control where some three million people currently live.

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