By Mariam Karouny
BEIRUT (Reuters) -- Trucks loaded with humanitarian aid entered four besieged Syrian towns and villages as part of a deal agreed last month between Syria's warring sides with U.N. help, local sources and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Sunday.
Simultaneously, trucks arrived in the towns of Madaya and Zabadani, where insurgents are holed up in a mostly government-held area near the Lebanese border. More trucks were heading for the nearby areas of Buqain and Saraghaya, bringing the total for the rebel-held areas to 23.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said its staff had entered Zabadani late on Sunday. “They are doing the distribution of medical supplies to treat the wounded,” said spokeswoman Dibeh Fakhr.
The initial deal included a six-month ceasefire in these areas and the evacuation of wounded rebels from Zabadani, which was the scene of fierce fighting between the Syrian army and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters on one side and insurgents including the Ahrar al-Sham group, which led the talks on the rebel side.
But the arrival of the trucks, together with the fact that a ceasefire in the areas is holding, offers a rare chance of success for foreign-brokered diplomacy in a conflict now in its fifth year, in which at least 250,000 have been killed.