Syria
© Reuters / Marko Djurica
Boys play soccer among destroyed buildings in Al- Khaldieh area in Homs, Syria, September 18, 2018. Picture taken September 18, 2018.
Washington is pressuring the United Nations to deliver international assistance to an overpopulated desert refugee camp but secretly planning to use the cargo to resupply armed militias it supports, Moscow and Damascus claim.

In a joint statement issued on Monday, the coordination headquarters of Russia and Syria insisted that their military coalition is "making significant efforts to restore peaceful life in the country and provide comprehensive assistance to Syrian citizens in voluntary and safe return to their homeland."

However, they add, the US is actively working to fuel fighting in the bloody civil war, which has been raging since 2011. According to the diplomatic partners, Washington has been politicizing the plight of the Rukban refugee camp, which has seen worsening conditions in recent months amid a rise in displaced civilians.

"The United States is using the current situation to put pressure on the UN leadership, regularly raising the topic of the need to deliver humanitarian aid to camp residents," commanders say. "At the same time, the Americans actually expect to use this cargo to supply the militants under their control operating in the area, as has happened more than once."

The allegations that Washington's diplomats are hoping international aid ends up in the hands of the armed groups they support is a serious one, given tough rules governing humanitarian relief shipments and the potential to politicize the process of getting supplies to those most in need.

The joint command also slammed the fact that "the United States is conducting air strikes on the territory of a sovereign Syrian state and continues to illegally occupy its territory." Later on Monday, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told journalists that an American bombing campaign has harmed the prospects of peace in the region.

According to the diplomat, a recent airstrike "came at the most crucial moment" for organizing talks between Iran and the US on nuclear weapons controls. However, by targeting groups supported by Tehran, "forces in Washington took steps to disrupt this."

The bombing run was President Joe Biden's first public military action as commander-in-chief. Intended to be a proportionate response to rocket attacks on American bases in the area that left one dead, a monitoring organization has since claimed Washington's strike could have killed as many as 22 people.