MIDDLE EAST

Assad regime ‘using suffering as war tactic,’ UN humanitarian chief says

ASSAD REGIME ‘USING SUFFERING AS WAR TACTIC,’ UN HUMANITARIAN CHIEF SAYS

The Assad regime is using civilian suffering in Syria as a "tactic of war," the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O'Brien said Tuesday.

O'Brien told the U.N. Security Council that the Assad regime denies aid to thousands of Syrians in need and forces people in besieged areas to choose between starvation and death or fleeing to other unsafe places.

"We need to see a step-change in access to the increasingly dire situation in north-eastern Syria," he said, calling for greater cross-border access for aid, including land access from Aleppo.

O'Brien also showed his support for the Astana memorandum, which was agreed upon by Iran, Russia and Turkey to establish four de-escalation zones in Syria, where fighting must significantly decrease for unhindered humanitarian access take place.

"This agreement must succeed. We, the United Nations, stand ready to sit with all parties involved to make it a workable agreement – one that will make a tangible difference to civilians on the ground," the U.N. humanitarian chief added.

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