ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A convoy scheduled to bring humanitarian aid to residents of the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta was abruptly postponed on Wednesday, after reports of a chlorine gas attack there by Syrian forces.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that over 60 residents had severe problems breathing after airstrikes and barrel bombs slammed the towns of Sabqa and Houmuriyah, killing almost 90.
“The convoy for today is postponed as the situation is evolving on the ground, which doesn’t allow us to carry out the operation in such conditions,” International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokesperson Ingy Sedky told reporters.
The ICRC, the United Nations (UN) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent had planned to deliver humanitarian aid to the town of Douma in East Ghouta on Thursday.
Earlier on Wednesday, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres called for the free passage of the delivery, citing an incident on Monday in which Syria blocked another.
"The latest convoy by the UN and its partners could not complete the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to 27,500 people in Douma," read a UN statement, "because of insecurity in the besieged enclave of eastern Ghouta, where the fighting reportedly killed more than 100 people on Monday alone.
Over 400,000 people are trapped in East Ghouta, says the international agency, and suffer from a severe shortage of food, fuel, medicines and drinking water.
The statement continued, “Nearly half of the food carried on the convoy could therefore not be delivered. Moreover, a part of the medical and health supplies to be included for delivery was removed by the Syrian authorities."
That the last time an inter-agency convoy reached East Ghouta was on Feb. 14, according to a Tuesday statement by UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.
A UN-passed resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire across Syria was the target of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, due to Syrian government forces’ disregard of the truce in their continued attacks on Ghouta, saying, "God curse your resolution."
According to the UN, Syrian forces have used chlorine and sarin gas at least four times between 2014 and 2016. After an attack in Ghouta on Aug. 21, 2013, UN investigators said they had uncovered "clear and convincing evidence" of the use of sarin delivered by surface-to-surface rockets.