Militants get R&R in US-guarded part of southern Syria – Lavrov

Militants get R&R in US-guarded part of southern Syria – Lavrov
A part of southern Syria, which the US has seized under its control, has become a safe haven for militants, the Russian foreign minister said. He added that the same militants are preventing humanitarian aid deliveries.

On Thursday, Sergey Lavrov reiterated Russia’s criticism of the US presence in the area of At-Tanf, which is located on Syria’s border with Jordan. US troops unilaterally declared it under its protection in April 2017, and, according to the Russian minister, “very strange things are happening there.” These include armed groups getting shelter and a chance to recover in the Rukban refugee camp, which is located in the US-controlled area, after which they “continue hostilities in violation of all ceasefire agreements,” Lavrov said.

Speaking alongside his Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Safadi, Lavrov said the militant groups protected by the US are the reason why the camp cannot receive much-needed supplies.

“The Americans for a long time has been refusing access to humanitarian aid convoys, claiming that the Syrian government would not give its permission. That is not true. All the issues the Syrian government and the aid organizations had have been settled,” he said. “In fact, the US now would not provide sufficient safety assurances to allow humanitarian access to that camp.”

He added that the US has suggested that whatever aid is provided can be distributed by the people in Rukban. Lavrov criticized this idea.

“We have seen many times, including in Eastern Aleppo and in Eastern Ghouta, how humanitarian aid delivered in this way either got seized by the militants or sold at inflated prices. That is not a solution,” he stated.

Moscow is highly critical of the deployment of US troops in Syria, saying it amounts to illegal occupation and an attempt to partition the country. While the At-Tanf area is relatively small – comprising a 55km radius around the US military outpost – the American troops are also present in a large portion of north-eastern Syria. The US has neither a mandate from the UN Security Council nor an invitation from Damascus to be in Syria.

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