2 children flee E. Ghouta under militant fire via humanitarian corridor – Russian MoD
“At night ... two children – a boy and a girl – managed to reach the humanitarian corridor. The Syrian military personnel who were on manning the checkpoint spotted their movement in advance, and were able to meet and cover them, as militants were firing at the children using small arms. Doctors and psychologists are now working with them,” spokesman for the Russian center for Syrian reconciliation Maj. Gen. Vladimir Zolotukhin told reporters on Friday.
The militants continue to prevent civilians from fleeing besieged Eastern Ghouta and sabotage the humanitarian operation there, ignoring the calls of the Russian Reconciliation Center.
“Today, from the eastern outskirts of Douma locality, Jaysh Al-Islam militants fired mortars twice at the security corridor on the M2 road section that leads to the Mukhayyam al-Wafideen checkpoint,” the official said. “It is obvious that the shelling was carried out to prevent the exit of the civilian population wishing to leave Eastern Ghouta.”
The civilian population, trapped in the besieged enclave near the Syrian capital city of Damascus, is beginning to act against the militants’ blockade, Zolotukhin said. The Reconciliation Center has been receiving an influx of calls from the Eastern Ghouta residents with complaints about the militants violating the ceasefire and humanitarian pauses. Some civilians are even reportedly forming armed groups to try and break free from the area to reach the Syrian government forces.
“We have received information on the dire humanitarian situation, food and medical shortages, as well as numerous complaints of repression conducted by militants,” the official stated. “There is evidence that some civil activists are uniting in small groups and getting armed with the aim of breaking the blockade of militants and entering the government-controlled territory.”
The Reconciliation Center also urged the militants to stop holding the civilians hostage in the besieged area and allow them to leave. The daily humanitarian pause, lasting from 9am till 2pm local time, began on Tuesday and is designed to allow civilians to leave the combat zone. The first three days, however, showed that the militants have been disrupting the humanitarian efforts and opening fire on the people attempting to flee.
The militants are also expected to stage a provocation involving chemical weapons, Major-General Yuri Yevtushenko, chief of the Reconciliation Center, told reporters later on Friday, citing intelligence received from the Syrian Army.
“The goal [of the provocation] is to blame the government troops of chemical weapons use in Eastern Ghouta, that’s why the operation is being prepared close to the contact line with the Syrian Army,” Yevtushenko stated. “The casualties among the civilians will be used by the western countries to accuse the Syrian leadership of using chemical weapons against its own population.”
The Syrian army command has also reiterated that it did not possess any chemical weaponry in its arsenal. The Syrian stockpile was destroyed back in 2014 under a Russia-US deal supervised by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).