Red Cross drivers won't take aid to Lebanon
A humanitarian aid convoy scheduled to leave Syria for Beirut on Friday will only go as far as the Lebanese border because many of the drivers are refusing to travel into the battle zone.
The Red Cross had received guarantees of safe passage for the convoy from both the Lebanese-based militant group Hezbollah and the Israeli army, which have exchanged rocket attacks and air strikes for the past 17 days.
Loaded with much-needed medical supplies, food, clothing and blankets donated from Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the convoy of 10 trucks was supposed to leave Damascus for Beirut on Friday.
But despite assurances from both sides in the conflict, Red Cross spokeswoman Tamara Al Rifai said the drivers have refused to enter Lebanon.
"The drivers are scared, and rightly so," she said.
Al Rifai says two incidents have added to the drivers' fears. Last week, an aid truck from the United Arab Emirates was hit by Israeli warplanes shortly after it crossed the border into Lebanon.
Even more frightening, she said, was the Israeli bombing of a United Nations post in Lebanon that is believed to have killed four UN military observers. One Canadian is believed to be among the dead.
Arab television stations are repeatedly broadcasting images of the UN bombing, along with anIsraeli strike on aRed Cross ambulance on Friday.
The drivers have agreed to travel to Syria's border with Lebanon and transfer the supplies to Lebanese trucks.
However, the Red Cross says the Lebanese vehicles have not received the same guarantee of safe passage, said CBC reporter Yasir Khan.
Al Rifai says she's worried about future aid deliveries.
"We had the plan for, at least twice a week or three times a week, sending aid in. It's going to be more difficult now if we cannot find drivers," she said.
Lebanon says 438 people have died in the conflict while Israel reports 52 deaths.
The violence began on July 12 after Hezbollah militants attacked an Israeli army post, killing eight soldiers and capturing two.
Israel has repeatedly shelled targets in Beirut and southern Lebanon, while Hezbollah has fired hundreds of rockets at northern Israeli communities.