Konashenkov Syria briefing
© Russia Ministry of Defense/YoutubeMajor General Igor Konashenkov and Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy
Today, Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy and spokesman of the Russian Defence Ministry Major General Igor Konashenkov held briefing in the National Centre for State Defence Control.

According to Sergei Rudskoy, in late February, situation in the Eastern Ghouta, suburbs of Damascus, has been complicated due to actions of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization and other armed formations joined to it. These armed formations activated military actions against the government troops and intensified shelling of living quarters of Damascus.

Acting strict to the UN Security Council Resolution 2401 dating from February 24, the Syrian government troops are eliminating Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists taken position in the Eastern Ghouta.

In order to prevent casualties among civilians, under the auspices of the Russian Reconciliation Centre, the humanitarian pause has been established since February 28. Humanitarian corridors have been organized in order to let civilians leave the area as well as to evacuate injured from the Eastern Ghouta.

Civilians are leaving Arbil, Douma, Kafr Batna, Sabqa, Hamouriyah, and Hazze through the special corridors.

Situation in the Eastern Ghouta has changed critically. Everyone can witness the unique humanitarian operation.

This morning, 27,610 civilians have passed through the humanitarian corridor. In total, 44,639 civilians have left the Eastern Ghouta.

Necessary infrastructure for receiving and transportation of refugees has been deployed near the humanitarian corridors. Under the auspices of Russian troops, post[s] providing hot meal and medical assistance have been organized. Additional places for injured people have been deployed in the nearest hospitals.

It is possible to watch webcast demonstrating civilians leaving the Eastern Ghouta via webcams and unmanned aerial vehicles on the official website of the Russian Defence Ministry and central Russian TV channels.

A number of insurgents' formations are ready to lay down their arms and leave the Eastern Ghouta. However, they are waiting for a command from their foreign patrons. The Russian party appeals for all forces influencing on illegal armed formations to promote their leaving from the area in order to prevent unnecessary casualties.

Over the past week, three humanitarian convoys have been delivered in the Eastern Ghouta. Civilians have received 445 tons of food and medical supplies as well as bare necessities. Another UN humanitarian convoy consisting of 25 trucks will reach Douma in order to provide assistance to civilians.

All actions aimed to evacuate civilians and provide humanitarian assistance are organized and held by the Russian Reconciliation Centre jointly with the Syrian authorities. Representatives of the United Nations and other international organizations are observing these actions.

Such actions by the Russian Centre are held in other Syrian regions.

In total, 3,806 civilians have left the Idlib de-escalation zone for Aleppo province through the humanitarian corridor located near Abu Duhur and Tel Sultan. The corridor has been organized by the Russia-Iran-Turkey Joint Coordination Centre.

Therefore, 23,841 people have returned to the areas located to the east from the Euphrates, Deir ez-Zor provinces. More than 12,000 people have returned to the settlement of Salkhiyah. The Russian Coordination Centre is located in the settlement.

It is be stressed that insurgents do not stop taking efforts to organize provocations with the use of poisonous agents in order to accuse the government troops of using chemical weapons against civilians.

In regard to information about preparation of provocations by insurgents in the Eastern Ghouta, the Russian party has evidence that American instructors have trained several groups of insurgents near al-Tanfa in order to hold provocations with chemical weapons in the south of Syria.

In the early March, the sabotage groups were deployed in the southern de-escalation zone near Daraa. Formations of so-called Free Syrian Army are located there.

They are preparing provocations using explosive devices fitted with poisonous agents. In the future, this fact will be used in order to accuse the government troops of using chemical weapons.

Components for these chemical munitions have already been transported to the southern de-escalation zone under cover of humanitarian convoys of a number of non-governmental organizations.

Insurgents have not only components for poisonous agents but also detonating fuses camouflaged as packs with cigarettes.

Besides, the Jabhat al-Nusra armed formations with support of so-called 'White Helmets' are preparing staged chemical attack near the settlements of al-Habid and Qalb Luza located 25 km northwest Idlib. Therefore, 20 containers with chloride have been delivered there.

It is planned that the event shall be widely broadcast in the western mass media.

Such provocations will give the USA and its coalition grounds for an attack against military and government facilities in Syria.

"The Russian Ministry of Defence stressed that there is clear evidence of preparations for the possible strikes. There are groups of missile carriers deployed in eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, Persian Gulf and Red Sea. It causes a question - whom will the USA support with these strikes? Will it be the Jabhat al-Nusra and its affiliates that commit outrages in the country? The Russian General Staff continues monitoring situation in the Syrian Arab Republic," said Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy.

The official representative of the Russian Ministry of Defence Major General Igor Konashenkov further stressed that over the recent years, months and even days, there has been a lot of criticism towards the Russian Federation, and especially the Russian Ministry of Defence, concerning disastrous situation in the Eastern Ghouta and necessity of urgent humanitarian aid. He reminded that it was always a matter of urgent delivering humanitarian convoys with food and medical supplies, the bare necessities to the residents of the Eastern Ghouta, as well as the evacuation of children, patients and wounded.

But all this did not work out because of terrorists' interference who used the population of the Eastern Ghouta as a "human shield" and did not allow even patients to leave this area.

According to Major General Igor Konshenkov, Russia has received hundreds of documented reports made by the released residents, who passionately told to journalists, including Western ones, about the outrages committed by militants. Eyewitnesses tell where the humanitarian aid went to, including that of international organizations. Everything was stocked up by militants, where people got nothing of it. The prices for food in Eastern Ghouta are much higher than in Damascus. Peoplestrubbling to make a living were forced to join [the terrorists and fight against government troops. It is to be reminded that militants acted likewise in Aleppo back in December 2016. When the city was liberated from militants, large stores of hundreds of tons of expired food were found there, as well as large storage facilities with medical supplies. Militants kept all these items in their possession, while peaceful citizens were starving.

Therefore, those representatives of Western countries who are trying to present these militants as "moderate opposition" should understand that they become accomplices of serious humanitarian crimes.

Today, Aleppo, liberated more than a year ago is successfully recovering. There are markets, social institutions, schools and hospitals. More than 800,000 Syrians have returned to their homes and live in peace. The official representative of the Russian Ministry of Defence also compared Aleppo with Raqqa liberated by the US-led coalition. The city is ruined, there is no light and no water. Social and medical institutions do not work or are destroyed as a result of the bombing of the coalition aircraft.

The worst thing about Raqqa is that the air temperature increases, and the corpses under the debris decay and get into the soil and aquifers. That is, the epidemiological situation in the city is not serious, but disastrous.

But international humanitarian organizations as well as the US-led coalition that destroyed the city prefer to turn a blind eye to this. Today, no one can arrive in Raqqa, it is not clear who governs the city and who is responsible for the disaster.

"Today the Russian Centre for Reconciliation has managed to create favorable conditions to provide civilians with necessary aid after intensive negotiation process in the Eastern Ghouta", stated Major General Igor Konashenkov.

He also added that today in order to secure work of the humanitarian centre deployed by Syrian authorities, the Russian Defence Ministry provided 4,100 sets of bed linen, pillows and blankets to residents of the Eastern Ghouta at the request of the UN Office. More than 427 tons of food supplies, field kitchens for cooking hot meals to the population of the Eastern Ghouta, as well as bottled water. The Russian military transport aircraft delivered 3,000 more sets of bed linen, as well as tens of tons of food for the residents of the Eastern Ghouta.

"Just before the briefing, I managed to talk with a Russian representative in the Geneva task force for humanitarian assistance to Syria," Major General Igor Konashenkov said. - Yesterday the meeting of this group took place, where the UN coordinator in Damascus in videoconference gave a detailed report about the situation in Eastern Ghouta. He highly appreciated the work of the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria at all stages of preparation, negotiation and organization of a safe evacuation of civilians from the Eastern Ghouta. The United Nations representative in Syria confirmed that people are leaving the area controlled by insurgents on a voluntary basis. He also told that there were no violations of humanitarian law by the Syrian security forces securing humanitarian corridors in the Eastern Ghouta."

According to the abovementioned report, the representative of the United Nations registered numerous complaints of civilians leaving the Eastern Ghouta about abuses committed by militants, larceny of incoming humanitarian aid, medical supplies and interference with evacuation of the population from dangerous areas.

Major General Igor Konashenkov stressed once again that the Russian Center for Reconciliation is now carrying out a unique humanitarian operation, which has no analogues, to help the population of Syria in the Eastern Ghouta.

"Today, more than ever, it is necessary and there is possible to help these people. Not by words, but real deeds," he said. "Since the live footage of daily flow of many thousands of civilians fleeing the Eastern Ghouta is available on the website of the Russian Defence Ministry and on the air of the media, there has been no real help from those who allegedly wanted to help most - the United States, Britain, France and Germany. Therefore, it is now clear that they were going to help not civilians of the Eastern Ghouta. "

"Russia has established all conditions to provide assistance to Syrian people. Dozens of citizens of the Eastern Ghouta are in safe areas. However, they need medical supplies, meal, water, warm clothes, and bare necessities. Therefore, the Russian party appeals for the western countries and international humanitarian organizations to move from words to deeds and keep their numerous promises about providing assistance to the population of the Eastern Ghouta," stated Major General Igor Konashenkov.