A cross party group have submitted a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May demanding that the RAF begin dropping aid in to the besieged city of Aleppo in Syria. In the letter the signatories stated that “100,000 children are facing the slowest death” unless RAF transports drop food and medical supplies to the population.
Quoted in the Guardian newspaper, the letter to the PM said;
With our Royal Air Force already operational in the air over Syria, we are calling on you to urgently authorise the air-dropping of aid to besieged civilian populations. It is simply not acceptable that during the biggest aid operation in the UN’s history, and in the full glare of the world’s media, nearly 100,000 children are facing the slowest, cruellest death because we cannot reach them with food and medical supplies.
Labour MP Alison McGovern who helped draft the letter added;
The situation in Aleppo is beyond desperate. Those who said ‘never again’ after Rwanda, after Srebrenica, may have meant it, but we have failed. The least the UK can do is recognise that this is our last chance to save lives in Aleppo. Therefore, we must heed the call of the White Helmets, and start aid drops. This is far from ideal – a route by road for aid would be better – but the [Syrian] regime has offered no such route.
The biggest concern for any plan to drop aid in to Aleppo is just how Assad’s Syrian government and his Russian allies would react. The skies over the city have seen heavy Russian and Syrian air activity in the last few days after Russia ended its suspension of air operations. The fresh air strikes have included aircraft from the Russian Navy’s carrier, the Admiral Kuzentsov (right), and cruise missile strikes from surface ships in the Mediterranean.
Moscow has said they would be open to allowing aid in to the city providing it was under the right conditions although just what those conditions are remain unclear. With Russian state sponsored news service RT running stories claiming that the White Helmets (Syrian civil defence – a volunteer, non-government organisation who work to rescue civilians caught up in the fighting) are supporting the rebels and having links to terrorism it is unlikely that Moscow will allow the RAF or any other western coalition aircraft to drop supplies to them in Aleppo. The biggest problem the Russians and Syrians have with the White Helmets is their release of videos of civilian casualties who have been caught up in their air strikes and which runs contrary to claims they are carrying out precision strikes against terrorist factions.
A Foreign Office spokesperson responding to the letter said;
Our priority is the protection of civilians in Syria who face an appalling humanitarian situation. We call on the Assad regime and their Russian supporters to bring about an end to terrible crisis immediately. We will continue to look at all options with our international partners to alleviate the suffering of millions of Syrians.