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First Aid in Four Years Reaches Besieged Daraya, Syria, Amid Ceasefire

The first humanitarian aid in four years made it a besieged suburb of Damascus on Wednesday amid a temporary ceasefire that Russia billed as a "regime of calm."

Syria's government had been refusing U.N. efforts to send aid in Daraya — and other sites besieged by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad — despite what the United Nations described as a "horrendously critical" food situation.

Russia, which has been fighting in Syria in support of Assad's regime, said Wednesday it had brokered a 48-hour period to allow the distribution of aid.

"At the initiative of the Russian Federation and as coordinated with the leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic and the American side, a 'regime of silence' was introduced in the city of Darayya in the Damascus province … to ensure safe delivery of humanitarian aid to the population," Lt. Gen. Sergei Kuralenko, head of Russia's mission in Syria, said in a statement.

Related: Living in a Box, Eating Weeds: Syria's Children on the Edge

Shortly after the announcement the International Committee of the Red Cross in Syria said medicine, nutritional items and baby milk had made it into the area.

Last month a U.N. convoy was turned away at the final checkpoint before reaching Daraya because soldiers refused to let baby milk into the town, according to Jan Egeland, humanitarian adviser to U.N. Syria mediator Staffan de Mistura.

The Syrian Red Crescent said 36 trucks loaded with medical items and food also been delivered Wednesday to the more rural suburb of Moadamiya.

The International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of countries backing the peace process, which includes Russia, had set a June 1 deadline for aid to reach affected areas. Otherwise the U.N. was ready to organize air drops of aid.

Image: SYRIA-CONFLICT-SIEGE
Syrian girls hold placards in Daraya, which is one of the first areas to rebel against the government - and has been kept under a strict regime siege since 2012. FADI DIRANI / AFP - Getty Images