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The escalating cycle of reprisals between the United States and Iran is threatening the delivery of aid to millions across the Middle East, the Norwegian Refugee Council cautioned on Wednesday.

“Tens of millions of people across the Middle East need humanitarian assistance. Most of them are already devastated or displaced by conflict,’’ Jan Egeland, the group’s secretary general said.

The independent humanitarian organisation also warned that a major conflict in the region would be deadly for aid routes on the brink of collapse.

In the past few days, tensions have heightened between Tehran and Washington after the U.S. killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds force, in a drone strike in Baghdad.

In retaliation, Iran attacked Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. troops.

“Twenty-four million war-affected Yemenis and 12 million Syrians displaced within the region are extremely vulnerable to any escalation in conflict, sanctions or restrictions on movement.

“We also see increased anxiety among over 6 million needy Iraqis and 2 million in need of aid in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,’’ the Norwegian Refugee Council said in a statement.

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