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UN Plans Life-saving Aid for 154,000 Besieged Syrians in Next Five Days

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A Syrian boy holds a toy gun as he plays soccer with others between destroyed buildings with graffiti that reads "Syria al-Assad," in the old city of Homs, Feb. 26, 2016.
A Syrian boy holds a toy gun as he plays soccer with others between destroyed buildings with graffiti that reads "Syria al-Assad," in the old city of Homs, Feb. 26, 2016.Credit: AP

UN plans to send life-saving aid to 154,000 besieged Syrians

The United Nations and partner aid organisations plan to deliver life-saving aid to 154,000 Syrians in besieged areas in the next five days, the UN Resident Coordinator in Damascus Yacoub El Hillo said in a statement on Sunday. 

Pending approval from parties to the conflict, the UN is ready to deliver aid to about 1.7 million people in hard-to-reach areas in the first quarter of 2016, he said. 

The UN estimates there are almost 500,000 people living under siege and 4.6 million who are hard to reach with aid. (Reuters)

Syrian rebel group denies firing into Latakia

A Syrian rebel group denied on Sunday state media reports that armed groups had fired dozens of mortar rounds into rural areas of the country's coastal Latakia province.

Fadi Ahmad, spokesman for the First Coastal Division, an FSA group operating in the rural Latakia area, said rebels were committed to a U.S.-Russian deal on a cessation of hostilities.

He said helicopters had dropped six barrel bombs and fired dozens of rockets in the area on Sunday, and the Nusra Front had no presence in the area targeted by government forces.

Syria's state news agency accused "terrorist groups" of firing dozens of mortar rounds into rural areas in northern Latakia and caused a number of casualties. It said that the shelling came from hills close to the Turkish border "where terrorists mostly from Nusra Front deploy." (Reuters)

Russia, Syrian regime violated truce, Saudi Arabia accuses

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Sunday accused Russia and the Syrian government air force of violating a cessation of hostilities in Syria and said Riyadh was discussing the issue with international powers.

Speaking at a joint news conference with visiting Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen in Riyadh, Jubeir said that there would be a "plan B" if it became clear that Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and its allies were not serious about the truce, but gave no details.

"I believe that abiding by the truce would be an important indicator of the seriousness to reach a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis that would include setting up a transitional authority and the transfer of power from Bashar to this council," Jubeir said. "There is no place for Bashar in Syria." (Reuters)

Warplanes strike two villages in northern Syria, monitor groups say

Opposition monitoring groups say warplanes have carried out air raids on two villages in northern Syria.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrikes hit the villages of Daret Azzeh and Qobtan al-Jabal. The group did not say whether the warplanes were Russian or Syrian.

The Local Coordination Committees said the warplanes were Russian.
It was not immediately clear if the warplanes struck areas controlled by al-Qaida's branch in Syria, known as the Nusra Front. Both the Nusra Front and the Islamic State group are excluded from the truce. (AP)

Russia says Syrian border town shelled by artillery based in Turkey

The Russian military operating in Syria says it has information about an artillery attack on the Syrian border town of Tell Abyad from Turkish territory.

Russia has set up a center for monitoring the truce at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria, where Russian warplanes are based. Russian news agencies on Sunday quoted the head of the center, Lt. Gen Sergei Kuralenko, as saying that his office has turned to the corresponding U.S. center in Amman for an explanation, since Turkey is a member of the U.S.-led coalition. (AP)

Erdogan: Syria cease-fire only 'partially implemented'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the cease-fire is only being partially implemented.

Erdogan expressed hope that "today or tomorrow this cease-fire will be secured and that calm prevails in Syria" after noting that it is only being adhered to "in about one-third" of the war-torn nation.

He made the remarks at a news conference in Istanbul prior to embarking on a trip to Africa. (AP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of local administrators at his palace in Ankara, Turkey, Wedesday, Feb. 10, 2016. Credit: AP

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