More than 5,800 people have now been confirmed to have died in Syria in the deadly earthquakes that rocked southern Turkey last Monday.

The death toll in opposition-held northwestern Syria has topped 4,400, according to the United Nations aid agency, OCHA.

Meanwhile, at least 1,414 people have died in areas controlled by Bashar al-Assad’s regime, according to health officials.

However, the actual toll could be much higher as the country is still divided between factions due to a decade long civil war, and many bodies were reportedly buried immediately after being rescued without any record.

Life was not easier for the survivors either, as politics weighed down on relief efforts as many were still waiting for a tent to sleep outside in the freezing weather.

Efforts to help survivors and count the dead and wounded in Syria have been marred by ongoing controversy.

On Tuesday, the United Nations announced an agreement with Damascus to bring UN aid through two more border crossings from Turkey to rebel-held areas in northwestern Syria, likely to help in the short term.

So far, the UN has only been allowed to bring aid to the Idlib region through a single crossing at Bab el-Hawa, and the world body has been under intense pressure to get more aid and heavy equipment to northwest Syria.

“Political benefit”

However, the decision was condemned by the head of the Syrian opposition rescue group, saying it gave Assad “a free political benefit.”

“This is shocking and we are at a loss as to how the UN is behaving,” Raed al-Saleh, head of the rescue team known as the White Helmets, told Reuters.

A UN representative was not immediately available for comment on the complaint.

The White Helmets are known for rescuing people trapped in bombed-out buildings during more than 10 years of Syrian civil war.

Meanwhile, large aid shipments from Saudi Arabia and Qatar also began arriving in the opposition-held enclave ahead of UN supplies, Saleh said.

“They will make a big difference because they come in directly,” he said.

Russia was outraged by the deal, and its foreign ministry denounced the West’s alleged desire to help “exclusively” areas not controlled by the Syrian government.

“The ninth day has begun and we are still hearing the question of when help will be delivered. We learned yesterday that two crossings could be opened,” Mahmoud Khaffar, head of the local council in Jenderis, one of the hardest hit communities in the northwest. Syria, according to AP.

“We hope that there will be more international engagement and that international assistance will come in to mitigate the crisis.”

“But so far no help has come,” he said.

Saudi aid arrives in Aleppo

Also on Tuesday, the first Saudi aid plane carrying 35 tons of food landed on Tuesday in government-controlled Aleppo, Syrian state media reported.

The wealthy Persian Gulf kingdom has raised about $50 million to help Turkey and Syria. Saudi planes have previously landed in Turkey and Saudi trucks have delivered aid to poor rebels in northwest Syria.

Several other Arab countries have sent aid planes to government-controlled Syria, including Jordan and Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Algeria, Iraq, Oman, Tunisia, Sudan and Libya also delivered aid to Damascus.

UN team in northwest Syria

The first UN delegation to visit rebel-controlled northwestern Syria since last week’s earthquake arrived from Turkey on Tuesday as anger simmered at the world body’s slow response, according to an AFP correspondent.

“This morning, an inter-agency mission set off from the Turkish side through the border crossing… It is mainly an assessment mission,” Kenn Crossley, director of the World Food Program for Syria, told AFP in Geneva.

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Eddie Hudson is an Entertainment News Reporter and Fashion Stylist. Graduated with a degree in Television Production from Howard University. He is an award-winning entertainment news reporter at 24PalNews and credits his upbringing and passion for helping others as the foundation for his success.

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