Russia’s military says terrorists are blocking civilian evacuations from Syria’s Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta by shelling the route out of the area hours after a humanitarian pause went into effect to help the residents flee the militant-held area.
Russia President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered the implementation of a daily five-hour ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta from Tuesday and the creation of a humanitarian corridor through which civilians can leave the militant-held area.
However, the chief of the group controlling the de-escalation zone in the area, Viktor Pankov, said Tuesday that not a single civilian had been able to leave the area via the corridor in the settlement of Vafidin, Russian news agencies reported.
“On February 27 at 9 a.m. a humanitarian corridor was opened for the civilians’ exit from the de-escalation zone. Now intense fire is underway from the militants’ side and no civilians have left,” he said.
Syrian government forces, helped by the Russian military, have created the necessary conditions for civilians to be safely received in Vafidin and that medical care was available nearby if necessary, according to Russian news agencies.
They said buses to carry civilians to the destinations where they could be temporarily housed were on standby.
The so-called Jaish al-Islam Takfiri militant group stationed in the Damascus suburb denied the recent shelling.
The United Nations also said fighting raged on in the eastern Ghouta district of Syria on Tuesday, despite the five-hour truce.
“Clearly the situation on the ground is not such that convoys can go in or medical evacuations can go out,” UN humanitarian spokesman Jens Laerke told a briefing in Geneva.
The ceasefire came three days after the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted in favor of a resolution demanding a 30-day truce in Syria “without delay” to allow aid access and medical evacuations.
The UN Security Council unanimously votes in favor of a resolution demanding a 30-day truce in Syria.
The resolution was adopted by 15 votes to none, after several delays and a flurry of last-minute negotiations.
Eastern Ghouta, a besieged area on the outskirts of Damascus which is home to some 400,000 people, has witnessed deadly violence over the past few days, with foreign-sponsored terrorists launching mortar attacks on the Syrian capital in the face of an imminent humiliating defeat.
Western powers, however, blame the Syrian government and Russia for the crisis.