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Syria's last aid crossing in Equilibrium as Biden to meet Putin

Russian forces have helped Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime survive the more than 10-year conflict and Putin hopes to become a broker for Assad in any international reconstruction effort for that country. Russia holds the key veto on July 10 if the U.N. Security Council determines whether to extend authorization for the help crossing from Turkey.

Putin meets with the American president in Geneva on Wednesday in their first face since Biden took office. The Russian leader has pushed for shutting down all other global humanitarian crossings into Syria, also asserts that Assad should take care of the distribution of any help.

The aid crossing from Turkey to rebel-held northwest Syria functions around 4 million people in Syria's last remaining rebel stronghold. A decade of civil war in the Middle East nation has killed a half-million people, displaced half of the populace, drawn in foreign armies and extremist groups and left the economy in ruins.

Slimming down the global aid corridor and putting Assad's authorities in charge of any humanitarian distribution would help place Assad as the winner at the war and Syria's rightful ruler in the wake, and hamper the regional influence of Assad's ally, Russia, at almost any rebuilding of Syria.

"Assistance should be given through the central authorities," Putin told NBC News in an interview before his interview with Biden.

If there are fears that the assistance will be stolen, help groups can post observers, the Russian leader said.

Experts say Assad's regime hasn't hesitated to use civilian starvation and siege for a weapon in the war, also dread a destabilizing surge of refugees into neighboring Turkey if the crossing shuts down.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, seen the threatened Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Turkey and rebel-held northwest Syria earlier this month to warn that closing it would bring"senseless cruelty."

Turkey, which holds near 4 million Syrian refugees, joins the U.S. in opposing closure of the crossing.

Mona Yacoubian, a senior advisor for the U.S. Institute of Peace think tank, said closing the Bab al Hawa help crossing could"precipitate this humanitarian catastrophe" and also a destabilizing explosion of refugees.

Biden's potential points of leverage with Putin, Yacoubian stated, could include stressing the injury that a new round of civilian suffering in Syria can do to Russia's image as it positions itself to oversee hoped-for Arab and other international aid to reconstruct Syria.

Additionally, there could be thought of awarding humanitarian waivers on sanctions that the United States and others have levied on the Assad regime, Yacoubian said.

Russia asserts that U.S. support for what started out as a peaceful uprising in Syria, and condemnation of Assad's and other repressive governments during the Arab Spring, fostered instability and violence and fostered Islamic extremist groups.

Many in Biden's government were also in the Obama administration when it believed, but held back from, military intervention to stop Assad's chemical attacks on civilians. They have since expressed regret that the United States' entire handling of the battle failed to stop the bloodshed.

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