First two planes with EU aid arrive in Damascus

First two planes with EU aid arrive in Damascus
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Two planes with EU aid for earthquake victims have arrived in Damascus. The aid is intended for earthquake survivors in both government- and opposition-controlled areas.

Two planes carrying EU aid have landed in Damascus as part of an EU humanitarian airlift to Syria, the European Commission said Monday, 20 days after the earthquake struck the region.

"The planes delivered much-needed relief supplies such as winterized tents, shelter equipment and heaters," the commission said.

“These are the first such flights landing in Damascus, but they are part of a series of flights transporting assistance from the EU's own humanitarian stockpiles in Brindisi and Dubai to the Syrian people in both government-controlled and non-government-controlled areas.”

The EU has so far responded to the earthquake with €10 million in humanitarian assistance to Syria. In Turkey more than 1,650 rescuers and 110 search dogs were deployed to support the search and rescue operations.

The European Union's envoy to Syria earlier said that it was not fair to accuse the group of failing to provide enough help to Syrians following the earthquake that devastated large parts of Syria and Turkey.

Dan Stoenescu told the bloc and its member states have gathered more than 50 million euros to provide aid and back rescue missions and first aid in both government-held and rebel-controlled parts of Syria.

More than 3,500 people died in the earthquake in Syria, where a 12-year conflict has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions of people to displace within the country and beyond its borders.

The Syrian government, which is under Western sanctions, has appealed for U.N. aid while saying all assistance must be done in coordination with Damascus and delivered from within Syria, not across the Turkish border into rebel areas.

Some observers have accused Damascus of directing aid towards loyalist areas.

The EU earlier had announced it was seeking "sufficient safeguards" to ensure that help provided would reach vulnerable people, with Syrian government having a "record of aid diversion."