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Security Council to Syria combatants: Let in humanitarian aid, fast

The UN Security Council on Wednesday moved to formally urge all sides in Syria's civil war to let humanitarian aid flow freely into the country. International relief for Syria has been sparse, and Western nations say the Assad regime has deliberately blocked it.

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A man distributes bags donated from UNICEF to young students in Raqqa, eastern Syria, September 29.

Nour Fourat/Reuters

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After nearly three years of stalemate, the United Nations Security Council has acted on Syria for the second time in just a few days – a move that suggests the road to international action on the deadly civil war there may be opening up.

The council on Wednesday voted unanimously to urge all combatants to allow humanitarian aid to flow freely into the country, and it asked the government of Bashar al-Assad specifically to “lift bureaucratic impediments and other obstacles” to international relief aid and workers.

Wednesday’s approval of a council “presidential statement” follows adoption Friday night of a Security Council resolution on implementation of an ambitious international plan under which Syria is to give up all of its chemical weapons. The resolution, based on a US-Russia plan to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, was approved after more than two years of diplomatic standoff during which Russia – a staunch supporter of Mr. Assad – vetoed three Syria resolutions and blocked other presidential statements.

The UN has already declared the Syria conflict the world’s most pressing humanitarian crisis, but Wednesday’s statement underscores what the council says is a “rapid deterioration” in conditions on the ground. More than 6 million Syrians now live as internally displaced people, with claims mounting of starvation in pockets of the population – even in the Damascus suburbs – stuck in no-man’s-lands between warring forces.

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