UPDATE 1-First U.N. aid trucks cross from Turkey into Syria

Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:06am EDT

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By Umit Bektas

NUSAYBIN, Turkey, March 20 (Reuters) - Several U.N. aid trucks crossed from Turkey into Syria for the first time on Thursday, a Reuters witness said, a step relief officials hope will pave the way for greater humanitarian access to area hardest hit by the country's civil war.

The trucks, mostly from the U.N. World Food Programme, crossed at the Nusaybin border post taking food supplies, bedding and medicine to the ethnic Kurdish city of Qamishli in Syria, according to officials.

"It is the first time in three years of this brutal conflict that the U.N. has been able to carry aid across into Syria from Turkey," Nigel Fisher, the United Nations' regional humanitarian coordinator, said in a statement.

The convoy became possible after the U.N. Security Council last month unanimously called on Syrian authorities and rebels to allow prompt access for humanitarian supplies across front lines and borders by the most direct routes to access an estimated 9.3 million people who need help.

One Western aid official said on Wednesday the convoy was a first step but warned it would not reach some of the areas worst affected by the conflict, which has killed more than 140,000 people.

(Additional reporting by Dasha Afanasieva in Gaziantep; Writing by Jonny Hogg; Editing by Nick Tattersall/Mark Heinrich)

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