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People unpack humanitarian aid inside a warehouse in Ghouta, eastern Damascus May 24, 2014. REUTERS/Badra Mamet


By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations sent its first humanitarian aid convoy into rebel-held areas of Syria without government consent on Thursday as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon accused warring parties of denying assistance to millions of people in need as a tactic of war.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution 10 days ago that authorized aid access at four border crossings from Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, even though Syria has warned it deems such deliveries incursions into its territory.

"A convoy of nine trucks crossed into Syria today from the Turkish crossing at Bab al-Salam, carrying U.N. food, shelter, water purification and sanitation supplies," said Amanda Pitt, spokeswoman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

No further details were available on whether the trucks had reached the people it was intended for. In a report to the Security Council, obtained by Reuters on Thursday, Ban said that an estimated 10.8 million people need help, of which 4.7 million are in hard to reach areas of Syria.

He said at least 241,000 people in areas besieged by government or opposition forces.

"The parties have continued to obstruct humanitarian assistance to those most in need and to withhold consent for operations in a completely arbitrary manner as a tactic of war," Ban said in the report, dated Wednesday.

"I call upon parties to the conflict to lift the sieges immediately and facilitate access to people in need of humanitarian assistance," he said.

Ban has reported monthly to the Security Council on the implementation of a resolution adopted in February demanding rapid, safe and unhindered aid access in Syria. The United Nations says that resolution had failed to make a difference and that the humanitarian situation on the ground had worsened.

The action then taken by the council on July 14 was a follow-up to the February resolution. The new resolution threatens "further measures in the event of non-compliance." The council would need a second resolution to impose punishments.

The new resolution allows aid deliveries across Al Yarubiyah on the Iraq border, Al-Ramtha from Jordan and Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa from Turkey and established a monitoring mechanism for loading aid convoys in those countries, which will notify Syria of the "humanitarian nature of these relief consignments."

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Grant McCool)

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