On 5th and 6th March UNICEF Executive Director, Ms. Henrietta Fore came on a mission to Turkey and to the Cross-Border Operation from Gaziantep, as the last leg of her visit to the UNICEF Syria operation, advocating for the rights of children of Syria. ED Fore’s mission was accompanied by the Regional Directors of MENARO and ECARO, Mr. Ted Chaiban and Ms. Afshan Khan. During her visit, ED Fore met with Government Officials from Turkey, humanitarian actors, the UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator, and attended transshipment operations from Turkey to North West Syria (NWS) from Bab Al Hawa.
On 3rd March, at the border with Syria, in Turkey, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock provided a briefing on the latest developments in northwest Syria to a delegation from the United States including US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, US Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey and US Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield, as well as Turkey’s UN Envoy Feridun Sinirlioglu. The USG for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator highlighted the priority needs of the estimated 2.8 million people requiring humanitarian assistance in north-west Syria and reiterated the commitment of the UN to stand by the people of Syria. UNICEF also briefed the delegation on trans-shipments of nutrition supplies and the situation in NW Syria. During the same visit, the US Ambassador to the UN announced that the US will provide an additional US$ 108 million in humanitarian aid for the people in Syria.
Following months of escalations in hostilities and conflict in southern Idlib, southern and western Aleppo, the Governments of Turkey and Russia reached a ceasefire agreement on 5th March. The ceasefire as led to a significant reduction of violence and hostilities on the ground. The agreement stipulated the establishment of a security corridor north and south of the M4 highway. It further agreed on joint Russian and Turkish patrols along the M4. The overall situation in Idlib and surrounding areas remained relatively calm, limited and intermittent armed clashes between Government forces and Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs) have been reported in front lines areas in eastern rural Idlib and western rural Aleppo. No reports of civilian casualties or impact on civilian lives and infrastructure.
On 15th March, the first joint patrol of Russian and Turkish forces along the M4 highway in southern Idleb governorate was reportedly unable to proceed beyond Tromba, shortly after the patrol departed Saraqab heading west. This was reportedly due to the presence of obstructions along the route, including a civilian sit-in demonstration against the presence of Russian forces on the M4 that reportedly began on 13 March.