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Aid convoy enters besieged Syrian town of Douma, first time since October: ICRC

A man removes rubble at a damaged site after airstrikes in the rebel held besieged Douma neighborhood of Damascus, Syria April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

BEIRUT (Reuters) - An aid convoy of food and medical supplies has reached the besieged Syrian town of Douma for the first time since October, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday.

Along with the United Nations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the ICRC went into Douma with 51 trucks loaded with aid for 35,000 people, it said on Twitter.

A U.N. official in Syria said the convoy had entered late at night, carrying food rations, health supplies and other emergency items, and the mission was still ongoing.

The U.N. had said in March that fighting around Syria’s capital, Damascus, cut 300,000 people off from aid in the rebel-held suburbs of eastern Ghouta, under siege by government forces since 2013.

Food stocks are dwindling and informal supply routes were cut in the pocket of farms and towns near Damascus. Douma has not received any UN aid since October and supplies have not entered Kafr Batna since last June, the U.N. has said.

U.N. Syria humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland, who had called on the warring sides to allow aid in, said last month it was “very, very urgent” to get to eastern Ghouta where 400,000 people live.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, writing by Ellen Francis in Beirut, editing by G Crosse