On July 21, France sent 50 tons of medical aid to the government-held region of Eastern Ghouta in coordination with Russia, according to Reuters. A Russian An-124 cargo plane shipped the aid from the central French city of Chateauroux to the Russian Hmeimim airbase in the western Syrian governorate of Lattakia.
“The aim of this project is to enable civilian populations better access to aid,” a joint Russian-French statement said, according to the UK-based news outlet Middle East Eye.
The France-Press Agency (AFP) reported that the French aid will be distributed in Eastern Ghouta under the supervision of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (OCHA).
Commenting on the issue, French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said that France had secured “guarantees” from Russia that the Damascus government would not obstruct the distribution of the aid and that it would not be misappropriated or diverted for political purposes.
Following the arrival of the aid shipment, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron discussed the humanitarian efforts in Syria over the phone, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
“Particular attention was paid to the humanitarian aspects of the Syrian settlement, including the implementation of the joint Russian-French initiative to provide humanitarian assistance to the population in Eastern Ghouta,” the Kremlin said in an official statement.
This is the first time a Western country delivers humanitarian aid to a government-held area since the outbreak of the armed conflict in Syria. The Russian-French cooperation on this issue will likely expand in the upcoming months.