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23.05.2018 (14:03)

Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy holds briefing on situation in Syria

Since the beginning of the year, the Syrian government troops supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces have achieved significant results in liberating key regions of the Syrian Arab Republic from the rest of terrorist groups.

These territories include: eastern part of Idlib province, Damascus suburbs, the Eastern Ghouta,the Eastern Qalamoun, Yarmouk, northern parts of Homs province which are now totally under control of the Syrian government troops.

In January-February this year, the Jabhat al-Nusra’s armed group, 1,500 militants strong, as well as several separate ISIS armed gangs were trapped and eradicated in the eastern part of Idlib.

As a result, the government troops gained control over the territory of more than 4,300 square kilometers from Kafer Akkar to Sabburah – from north to south and from Sinjar to al-Hammam – from west to east.

The Hama-Aleppo highway has already been reopened. People return back to peaceful life in liberated regions, so that refugees can make their way back home. In total, 9,573 civilians have already left west of Idlib province via a humanitarian corridor near Abu-Duhur and Tal-Sultan for Aleppo province.

Situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone is being stabilized.

Observation posts have been arranged along the zone’s border. Servicemen of the Astana process guarantor states (Russia, Iran and Turkey) are on duty at the posts.

The Russian side organized ten posts, Turkey – twelve, and Iran – seven. They control ceasefire regime compliance by government troops and armed opposition.

The posts are linked by stable communication. Servicemen are constantly exchanging information on situation and ceasefire violations; if necessary, measures are taken to prevent them and address conflicts.

The Syrian government troops have competed operation on liberation all suburbs of Damascus.

The Russian Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides supervised an unprecedented humanitarian operation in the Eastern Ghouta, Eastern Qalamoun and Yarmouk.

In order to avoid any casualties among the civilian population, 188,234 people with 28,725 militants among them were evacuated from Damascus suburbs via special humanitarian corridors. They were voluntary transported to northern parts of the country. Most of the civilians have already returned back to their homes.

Yarmouk, the former Palestinian refugee camp, was the last stronghold of terrorists in the Syrian capital. It became a refuge for ISIS militants who had been defeated by the SAA in different parts of Syria.

All ISIS armed units operating in west Yarmouk have been eradicated; territory is now under control of the government troops.

Besides, due to work of the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides, some members of armed opposition from east Yarmouk were given an opportunity either to voluntary use amnesty and return back to peaceful life or to leave the area with their families for Ildib province.

In total, 3,283 militants have been withdrawn from Yarmouk.

As a result of the operation, resident of Damascus feel safe for the first time over the last six years. There are no more daily shelling attacks against residential quarters, terror attacks, and kidnappings. Hostages taken by militants were liberated.

Prices of food and medical supplies have significantly lowered in the regions, which had been retained by armed groups. People are now able to receive health care.

Situation in the liberated regions has now returned to normal, people can live in peace now.

A similar scenario was implemented in humanitarian operation in the Homs de-escalation zone. During negotiations with leaders of armed formations, tribal sheiks and representatives of religious communities have reached agreement on establishing peaceful life in settlement of the de-escalation zone and reopening the Homs-Hama highway.

Members of armed formations were given an opportunity to use amnesty and stay in their settlements. Those who refuse to accept authority of the Syrian government were able to depart for Idlib province and the city of Jarablus, north of Aleppo province.

Since May 7, a total of 13,407 members of illegal armed formations have been withdrawn from al-Rastan, al-Qantara Shimali and Talbiseh and other settlements.

Armed formations have surrendered to the Syrian government troops seven tanks, five infantry fighting vehicles, seven pick-ups equipped with large-caliber machine-guns, 122 guns and mortars, 20 multiple launch rocket systems, 9 ATGM systems, 45 hand AT grenade launchers, 14 anti-aircraft systems, 12 Hellfire improvised launchers, and 56 large-caliber machine-guns.

It is to be stressed that the Homs de-escalation zone was liberated in a peaceful way; there were no hostilities, and therefore no casualties among civilians and opposition.

Iran, Russia and Turkey discussed these issues as well as current situation in Syria at the 9th International Session which completed on May 15.

Representatives of the guarantor states reviewed results of developing situation in the Syrian Arab Republic over the past year, since the Memorandum on creation of de-escalation zones in Syrian Arab Republic dated May 4, 2017. The attendees emphasized the key role of de-escalation zones in maintaining ceasefire regime, reducing violence and stabilizing situation in Syria in general.

Participants of the conference welcomed the decision of the three guarantor states to hold the 2nd session of the Working Group on release of detainees and hostages, returning bodies of the deceased and searching for MIA, which will be attended by experts of the UN and ICRC. It was confirmed that it is necessary to continue cooperation in order to build confidence in opposing sides in the Syrian Arab Republic.

The sides agreed to exert any effort to provide the Syrian people with help, to facilitate humanitarian demining, preserve historical heritage, restore social and economic infrastructure.

The Russian Centre for Reconciliation continues its work on humanitarian assistance to the people in Syria.

Major General Yuriy Evtushenko, the Chief of the Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides, will brief in details via video conference about reconstruction operation and returning refugees in regions liberated from illegal armed formations.

Report by Major General Yuriy Evtushenko

As the Eastern Ghouta was liberated from militants, the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides focuses on post-conflict settlement and creating conditions to enable people to return back home.

Russian special equipment, lumber, power and fiber optic cables, water pipes and other constructional materials have been delivered to the settlements of Douma, Kafer Batna, Arbin to remove rubbles, clear streets, restore community infrastructure and facilities. Repair teams have already started to recover infrastructure in the Eastern Ghouta.

The Russian Centre for Reconciliation is constantly monitoring humanitarian situation and cooperating of the Syrian government bodies and local administration in issues of recovering social infrastructure of priority concern. These include schools, infirmaries, bakeries, power and water supply objects.

Syrian engineers are clearing up living houses, withdrawing ammo and mines.

In total, 453 buildings and 32 km of roads have been cleared up in the Eastern Ghouta; 956 explosive devices have been found and defused. More than 25 square km of the settlements have been cleared from rubbles.

Due to improving humanitarian situation, 66,257 people have returned home in the Eastern Ghouta.

Every day, Russian military police units deploy observation posts in the Eastern Ghouta, Eastern Qalamoun, Yarmuk, al-Rastan, and Talbiseh in order to prevent provocations and provide security of civilians. They also patrol the area.

Over the past month, the Russian Reconciliation Centre has held 41 humanitarian actions providing more than 95 tons of food supplies, bottled water, and the bare necessities to the Syrian population.

Russian military medics provided medical assistance to more than 1,000 civilians.

The Syrian government and the Russian Centre continue establishing conditions so that people could return back to their homes.

Since November 1, 2017, a total of 13,763 people have returned home in the province of Homs, and 46,792 people – on the eastern shore of the Euphrates in Deir ez-Zor province.

Since April 25, 2018, more than 7,000 people have returned to settlements of the Eastern Qalamoun.

Report by Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy

Despite active work held by the Russian Centre for Reconciliation, assistance provided by the international community is required to recover areas damaged by warfare against terrorist groups in Syria, and the country’s economy itself. The Russian party appeals to the United Nations and other international organizations for joining this process.

Colonel Yuri Tarasov, the Russian Defence Ministry official in Geneva, is reporting on steps taken by the Russian side in this field.

Report by Colonel General Yuriy Tarasov

Colonel Tarasov, the Russian Defence Ministry representative in ceasefire humanitarian assistance working groups, is reporting.

Successful activities aimed at reconciliation of former de-escalation zones in the Eastern Ghouta as well as provinces of Hama and Homs resulted in liberation from extremists and total unblocking. Achieved results allow providing all-round humanitarian assistance to people, who were isolated and used as a human shield.

Representatives of the Russian Federation in the working groups are informing the office of the UN Secretary General Envoy to Syria about situation in liberated areas for immediate joining the peaceful life recovery as well as settling topical problems of the returning population by the humanitarian organizations.

The Syrian government by agreement with the Russian party has granted access to the UN mission to assess the situation in the Eastern Ghouta when mine action and road clearing problems were settled. On May 12, the UN specialists visited Kafr Batna and Saqba. The UN is to send the mission to the city of Douma. Plan of such operation in Homs province is being discussed within the working group.

The Russian side is working to make the international organizations complete assessment and start practical steps as soon as possible.

During weekly sessions, the Russian representatives are drawing attention of the Syria Support International Group to the necessity of providing assistance to population in liberated areas.

The Russian party is developing a plan aimed to involve international organizations in humanitarian mine action operations in the country. Deployment of the UN mine action office in Damascus is being approved.

The Russian representatives in the working groups are ready for all-round cooperation with international organizations, including in the issues of humanitarian convoy passage and assessment missions. Moreover, the Russian party has been informing the UN about priority directions of assistance in order to provide it in the most damaged areas.

The Russian side expresses hope that the UN and other international organizations will confirm their interest in the most rapid recovery of Syrian territories damaged by terrorists as well as returning to the peaceful life.

Report by Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy

In conclusion, it is to be noted that there are all conditions required for recoverying of Syria as a single and indivisible country. However, in order to reach this aim not only Russia but also other members of the international society are to take efforts.

The Russian General Staff is closely following the situation in Syria. We will keep you posted about all the changes

Thank you for your attention.

Directorate of Media service and Information
General Staff , Ministry of Defence
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