Syria allows UN to keep delivering aid from Turkey

FILE PHOTO: People stand near trucks parked at Bab al-Salameh border crossing in Aleppo countryside

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Syria has extended permission for the United Nations to deliver aid to opposition-held areas in the northwest of the country via two Turkish border crossings for another three months, the United Nations said on Monday.

After an earthquake killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria in February, Damascus initially allowed the U.N. to dispatch aid through the Turkish crossings for three months. That has now been extended for a third time until Feb. 13.

"The U.N. cross-border operation remains a lifeline to people in north-west Syria. Each month, the U.N. and partners reach an average of 2.5 million people with critical assistance and protection services," the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement.

Syria's mission to the United Nations in New York confirmed the extension of the U.N. use of the Bab al-Salam and Al Ra'ee crossings.

The United Nations had also been using the Bab al-Hawa crossing from Turkey to deliver aid to millions in northwest Syria since 2014 with authorization from the U.N. Security Council. But that expired in mid-July after the 15-member body could not reach an agreement to extend it.

Just days later the Syrian government said the U.N. could continue using the Bab al-Hawa crossing for another six months.

The United Nations said that so far this year more than 4,200 trucks carrying U.N. aid have used Bab Al-Hawa, Bab Al-Salam and Al Ra'ee border crossings.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Jonathan Oatis)