The humanitarian situation in Syria remains difficult. Given these circumstances, Russia continues to deploy multidimensional efforts to provide aid to the civilian population, both by directly bringing in humanitarian supplies, and facilitating the work of international humanitarian bodies.
In this context, we paid attention to a statement issued by the UN agencies in Syria released on February 6 regarding the humanitarian situation in a number of areas, including Afrin, Hasakah, Raqqa, Idlib, Rukban camp, and Eastern Ghouta, with a call for a month-long break in hostilities in order to deliver humanitarian aid and evacuate wounded and sick people.
We share this concern. We have repeatedly called on all parties to stop the hostilities. This is the goal of the agreements by guarantor countries under the Astana process – Russia, Turkey and Iran. Efforts are underway to implement these agreements. However, such work is not going smoothly because of active resistance by terrorists and extremists who are trying as best they can to disrupt the processes of establishing peaceful life and who do not want to see Syria a united, sovereign and independent state.
We hope this statement by the humanitarian agencies will not be used to stage more politically motivated attacks against the legitimate Syrian government or to foment hysteria in order to please those who have long called for a regime change in Damascus.
Clearly, the situation in each of the above problem areas has its own specifics. The attempts to put the entire burden of responsibility solely on the official Syrian authorities are groundless. We know from past experience that many of our Western colleagues tend to avoid thoughtful analysis of developments in Syria. They already know in advance who is to blame for everything.
As you may be aware, Raqqa has turned into a ghost city in the wake of massive bombardment by the US-led “anti-ISIS” coalition in the autumn of 2017. More than 80 per cent of the buildings in this city have been destroyed. The mine clearance effort is moving very slowly. In fact, no one is doing it. Dead bodies remain under the debris. Up to 50 injuries caused by explosive devices left behind by ISIS are put on record every week.
Rukban camp located next to the border with Jordan cannot be accessed, because it is located inside a “security area” which was illegally and without prior arrangement created by the United States. In fact, the US troops have this area under their control.
The escalation of tension outside Afrin, where no Syrian government troops are present at the moment, was caused by the United States supporting its “clients” despite Washington’s assurances of supporting Syria’s territorial integrity.
Expanded air strikes on the province of Idlib is a response to the terrorists’ desperate attempts to regain lost ground. On February 6 alone, government forces fought off five massive attacks on Abu al-Duhur. The prospects for actual de-escalation there largely depend on how quickly the Turkish observation posts will be put in place along the internal perimeter off the contact line. This work is currently underway. In addition, as far as we know, the entry of humanitarian supplies into this province is fairly unfettered.
Fighting in Eastern Ghouta was provoked by militants attacking the Syrian Armoured Vehicle Department in a Damascus suburb of Harasta in November 2017. The militant attempts to cut off and seize this site continue until now. On February 6 alone, several massive attacks were disrupted. Damascus has been under mortar fire from this area to this day. It intensified in the past few days, and the number of dead and wounded among civilians has increased dramatically.