U.N. starts first aid airlifts to Syria from Iraq as cold grips

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By Suadad al-Salhy BAGHDAD (Reuters) - 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 made a one-hour flight to Hassakeh governorate in Syria, which has had no significant aid deliveries since May. The U.N. said two planes are contracted to do 23 rotations over the next 10 days. "We have been particularly worried about the situation of children and families in the northern parts of Syria because of the insecurity and limited access," said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. "These airlifts will help ensure they have access to safe water and health care through the tough winter months ahead." 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.