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Wednesday, September 14

Ceasefire in Syria continues to hold. Now the problem of aid delivery

I've switched around paragraphs in this CNN report to put information on the ceasefire first, followed by discussion of the aid delivery situation. 

Syria ceasefire: Focus turns to aid delivery in besieged areas
By Tim Hume and Kareem Khadder, CNN

CNN's Vasco Cotovio and Schams Elwazer contributed to this report.
Updated 9:11 AM EDT - September 14, 2016


The ceasefire in Syria's brutal civil war appears to be holding into its second day -- but for hundreds of thousands of besieged Syrians, the wait for humanitarian relief may last somewhat longer.
No major violence
But the ceasefire appears to have led to a respite in violence in the five-year civil war.  
Staffan de Mistura, UN special envoy for Syria, said there has been a "significant drop in violence" in the wake of the ceasefire.
There were still intermittent incidents. An activist from the Aleppo Media Center, an opposition-aligned group that documents the conflict, said there had been an airstrike overnight on Khan Toman in countryside south of Aleppo.
In general though, the situation remained quiet in Aleppo, with no significant violations, the activist said.
The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said that rebel groups had breached the truce by firing seven mortars Wednesday morning in the countryside near Homs.
In recent days [Since the start of the ceasefire] images have emerged from Syria showing people taking advantage of the rare calm to celebrate the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Terror groups excluded from truce
The ceasefire deal, intended to bring humanitarian relief, calls for a halt to the violence between the Syrian regime and rebel forces.
But it does not cover militant groups considered terrorists, such as ISIS and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al Nusra Front.
Under the terms of the deal, if the peace holds for seven days, Russia and the United States will begin coordination to target terror groups in the conflict.
Aid convoys are positioned at the Turkish border town of Cilvegozu, poised to enter the country and deliver food and medical aid to rebel-controlled eastern Aleppo, where the United Nations says between 250,000 and 275,000 people have been cut off from assistance since early July.
Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN humanitarian office, said the distribution of aid was being held up Wednesday, pending assurances of safety from the parties in the conflict in Syria's volatile northwest.
"The UN convoy from Turkey to eastern Aleppo is still in customs area on the border this morning because of lack of de facto assurances of safe passage by all parties," Laerke said.
"The convoy is ready and will move as soon as conditions allow."
Aid agencies are also dependent on authorization from the Syrian government to enter the country.

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