Middle East

Syria conflict: Food aid reaches besieged Darayya

Boxes of aid delivered to Darayya in Syria - 9 June 2016 Image copyright UNOCHA
Image caption The UN's humanitarian arm posted images of the first food delivery reaching Darayya

The first deliveries of food aid since 2012 have reached the besieged Damascus suburb of Darayya.

Trucks carrying medicine, food and flour reached the town that was among the first to report protests against Bashar al-Assad's government.

An aid delivery to Darayya early this month carried only a small amount of medicines and other non-food items.

In April, the UN said at least 4,000 people were besieged in Darayya by Syrian government forces.

The UN's special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said on Thursday that the Syrian government had given permission for aid to be delivered to 19 besieged areas.

The UN has 19 areas designated as "besieged" in the country, where an estimated 600,000 people live.

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The latest delivery to Darayya - which is surrounded by government forces - was made by a teams from the Syrian Red Crescent and the United Nations' humanitarian body.

Tamam Mehrez, the operations director of the Syrian Red Crescent, told AFP news agency the goods would be enough for residents for one month.

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Media captionInside the besieged suburb of Darayya

"There aren't many residents waiting for the convoy because they don't believe in promises anymore," one rebel in Darayya, Shadi Matar, told AFP.

"And because of the bombings on the town, people are afraid to go out and gather in groups."

The US, UK and France have called for air drops of aid, given the previous reluctance of Damascus to allow relief into rebel-held areas.

Mr de Mistura said he believed the pressure on the Syrian government over the prospect of air drops led it to allow aid into besieged areas.

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Media captionChildren explain how it feels to live under siege by government forces.

Elsewhere in Syria, US-backed forces drew closer to a stronghold of the so-called Islamic State in the north of the country on Thursday.

Manbij, a key town on the supply line between Turkey and the de facto IS capital Raqqa, is now effectively encircled, news agencies said.

But it does not appear that IS fighters are withdrawing from the town, reports said.

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