ALEPPO, Syria, Aug. 18 (UPI) — The United Nations suspended the work of its humanitarian aid task force in Syria amid ongoing airstrikes, including one that injured a 5-year-old boy who has become the most recent face of the country’s bloody civil war.
The announcement from Staffan de Mistura, the U.N.’s special envoy for Syria, comes hours after a military strike on rebel-held Qaterji. He cut short a humanitarian aid meeting Thursday after just eight minutes, saying it made “no sense” to continue plans for aid when humanitarian workers are not allowed in the devastated areas. He said convoys have not been able to reach areas most in need.
“I decided to use my privilege as chair to declare that there was no sense to have a humanitarian meeting today unless we got some action on the humanitarian side in Syria,” De Mistura said. “What we are hearing and seeing is only fighting, offensives, counteroffensives, rockets, barrel bombs, mortars, hellfire cannons, napalm, chlorine, snipers, airstrikes, suicide bombers.”
De Mistura again called for a 48-hour halt in gunfire to allow for deliveries of aid that includes medications, food and water. He said the task force is suspended until next week in the hopes of bringing together the United States and Russia.
“I insist, on behalf of the U.N. secretary general, to have a 48-hour pause in Aleppo,” he said. “That would require some heavy lifting not only by the two co-chairs [Russia and the United States] but also those who have influence on the ground.”
In the most recent strike on Wednesday night, rescue workers scrambled to free the injured from a collapsed apartment building, including 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh, his three siblings and their parents. A video, shot by photojournalist Mahmoud Raglan for the Aleppo Media Center, showed Omran being carried in to an ambulance and sitting quietly, wiping his hand on his face and looking at the blood. Omran and his family were treated at a local hospital and released. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said three people died in the attack.
Video contains graphic content.