BEIRUT (AP) — The U.N. began airlifting humanitarian aid to families cut off from supplies in northeastern Syria, bringing 40 tons of food on a flight that landed in Qamishli, an area controlled by the Syrian government, the World Food Program said Sunday.
The WFP said the flight landed the night before in Qamishli airport in Syria's Hassakeh province. The agency estimates that 275,000 people living in many areas of the province have been cut off from food and other supplies for more than six months. It added that it will fly at least 25 rotations between the capital Damascus and Qamishli over the course of a month.
The U.N. classifies Hassakeh as a "hard-to-reach area" although it is accessible by the Syrian government through Qamishli airport. Commercial flights land in Qamishli from Damascus several times a week.
Road access into Hassakeh from inside the country has been blocked by the Islamic State group, which controls the neighboring provinces of Raqqa and Deir el-Zour, for more than two years, while the border crossings from neighboring countries have been closed since early 2016.
"These airlifts are a big step forward in the humanitarian response in Syria this year and bring a glimmer of hope to the people of Hassakeh Governorate who have survived without a lifeline for far too long," said Jakob Kern, WFP Syria Country Director, adding that WFP food stocks in Qamishli were exhausted a few weeks ago.