BAGHDAD - The United Nations sent its first delivery of humanitarian aid by air to Syria from Iraq on Sunday and said it plans to deliver more food and winter supplies to the mainly Kurdish northeast in the next 12 days.
The first cargo plane carrying food took off from Arbil in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region and will make a one-hour flight to Hassakeh in Syria.
The food supplies over the next 12 days should be able to feed more than 6,000 Syrian families for the rest of December, the UN's World Food Programme said. This is the third winter since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011.
The airlifts were delayed from last week because of a storm which swept across Syria and Lebanon, bringing with it high winds and freezing temperatures. Cold, dry winds whipped the Tarmac at Arbil airport before takeoff.
"This wave of extreme cold led to deteriorating conditions for people in the city of Qamishli and other places in Syria," Iyad Nuaman, WFP regional coordinator, told Reuters by telephone from Arbil.
"Regions of eastern Syria are suffering more than others because they are far from the capital and there were problems with the delivery of food supplies," he said.
Both governments gave permission for the aid flights which will also include supplies of non-food items such as blankets, clothes and medicine in the coming days.
The 12-day airlift, involving various UN agencies, will include 400 tons of food and 196 kg of medical kits.