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A Saudi aid plane at Aleppo airport on February 14, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

BEIRUT: A Saudi aid plane landed at a Syrian airport held by the government of President Bashar Al Assad on Tuesday in the first such shipment from the kingdom.

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya reported that the plane carrying 35 tonnes of food and medical aid and shelter arrived at Aleppo International airport as part of a Saudi humanitarian operation to help Syrians affected by last week’s deadly earthquake.

It said the operation was carried out on the orders of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

“The directives given to us from the leadership in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is to help the brotherly Syrian people affected (by the earthquake) across Syria,” a member of the Saudi delegation told Syrian television.

The person, who was not identified, said that Tuesday’s plane was the first of several set to arrive over the next days.

Before Tuesday, Saudi Arabia had sent aid only to the country’s opposition-held northwest, including a convoy of 12 trucks that arrived in the devastated city of Jandaris on Monday, according to Saudi state-owned Al Hadath.

Saudi Arabia broke off relations with A Assad's government in 2012 and backed rebels in earlier stages of the war, now nearly in its 12th year.

Riyadh has pledged aid to both rebel-held and government-controlled areas of the country.

There was no direct contact with the Assad government, an official at King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre told AFP earlier.