Exclusive: U.K. to Table Amendment for Gradual Closure of Syrian Aid 'Lifeline'

The United Kingdom is expected to table an eleventh-hour amendment for the gradual closure of a second border crossing into Syria as the United Nations Security Council failed to pass a resolution to ensure the continuation of humanitarian aid delivered from Turkey to the embattled county.

The amendment, which includes provisions for one Turkish border crossing for 12 months and the commissioning of a council-prepared report on the impact of sanctions against the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad, is likely to also be vetoed or struck down by the United States, a source familiar with the negotiations not authorized to discuss the matter told Newsweek.

A final push by Western member states to extend the two operational crossings for the next six months was voted against by Russia and China, which have blocked two other continuances this week. Russia has long remained an ally of Assad since he quashed political protests during the Arab Spring in 2011. Moscow has vetoed 16 council resolutions since then.

Members are expecting the results of a final vote on Saturday afternoon as the council holds remote sessions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Humanitarian operations to the country appeared on the verge of collapse as the approval lapsed after midnight on Saturday. Unable to break a deadlock late Friday that would have decided the fate of more than 3 million Syrians trapped in the country's northwest, the Security Council failed to extend Resolution 2504 which passed in January and ensured the continuation of aid through July 10.

The UN described the crossings as a 'lifeline.'

A contentious week of voting ended without compromise after the council failed to renew a measure to provide humanitarian aid to one of the worst-hit regions of the 9-year Syrian civil war.

On Thursday, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Idlib, the rebel-held region in the country's northwest and the final redoubt of aggression against the regime.

The infection revived fears of a worsening humanitarian crisis in an area where healthcare is limited and pro-government forces frequently target medical facilities.

Of the millions who have been displaced during the fighting of the country's nine-year civil war, humanitarian groups say roughly 80 percent are women and children.

Syria has recorded at least 372 cases of COVID-19, including at least 14 deaths in regime-held areas, and at least six cases with one death in the country's northeast, from which American forces recently withdrew after years of fighting the Islamic State.

Syria Idlib Border Crossing Protests
Syrian protesters in the city of Idlib carry placards expressing their opposition to regime ally Russia's attempt to reduce cross-border aid to millions in the northwest of the war-torn country, as they wear protective masks and maintain social distancing due to the first case of coronavirus recorded a day earlier, on July 10, 2020. Photo by ABDULAZIZ KETAZ/AFP via Getty Images