The United Nations Security Council has agreed to extend a cross-border aid operation into northwest Syria from Turkey for 12 months, subject to a report from the UN Secretary General at the six-month mark.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, praised the decision as a "great job for our team" and said keeping the border corridor would be a "lifeline for 2.7 million people".

In a post on Twitter, he said it was a "proud and important day for Ireland".

Ireland and Norway had together presented a draft resolution last month to keep the Bab al-Hawa crossing open for one year.

The channel was due to close tomorrow unless it received authorisation to stay open for another year in a UN Security Council vote this week.

However, Russia, an ally of the Syrian government, threatened to veto the extension, arguing that the operation violates Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Aid agencies warned if the UN aid programme expired this Saturday it would be disastrous for the millions of displaced people living in northwestern Syria.

International organisations use the route to bring in medicine, food, blankets and Covid-19 vaccines to the last opposition stronghold.

It is the only crossing for aid into the region that bypasses Damascus.

"For us, being in Syria and being in the region there is fear because these are the people who have been displaced multiple times," Taimur Ahmed, Syria's Country Director for Concern Worldwide told RTE News.

"Lives will be lost if this border crossing is closed. Nearly half of the food security is dependent on the UN projects in northwest Syria. That means that 50% of the food supply will be simply halted."

The vote was due to take place yesterday but it was pushed to today as negotiations over the issue continued.

The UN's cross-border aid operation will now be prolonged by six months, with a possible six-month renewal.

The approved text is an amalgam of two drafts - one proposed by Norway and Ireland and another by Russia.

A resolution for an extension needed nine votes in favour and no veto by any of the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Ireland is an elected member.

Simon Coveney welcomed the agreement and said it was possible "the most challenging and important role that Ireland was entrusted with on the Security Council".

He described the negotiations as painstaking and sometimes difficult.

"But we focused on setting out clearly the compelling case for this operation to continue, to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in northwest Syria.

"This will secure vital humanitarian aid for 2.7 million people in North West Syria, providing food, shelter and protection and saving lives," he said.