Russia calls for UN assessment of humanitarian situation in Syria's Raqqah
Iran Press TV
Thu Mar 1, 2018 09:26AM
The Russian defense chief has called on the UN to set up an international commission to assess the humanitarian situation in the northern Syrian city of Raqqah, which is controlled by US-backed Kurdish militants.
In a letter to UN envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, Sergei Shoigu suggested "opening humanitarian corridors from Al-Tanf and Rukban, and establishing an international commission to evaluate the humanitarian situation in Raqqah," Russia's TASS news agency reported on Thursday.
Raqqah fell in the hands of US-sponsored Kurdish militants last year after they managed to drive Daesh terrorists out of the city. They have refused to hand back the control of Raqqah to the Damascus government.
The comments came days after Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov warned against an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Raqqah, noting that the US-led coalition in the area is ignoring the situation.
He said US airstrikes have destroyed over 80 percent of buildings in the city, while water and electricity supply has been cut off to residential areas.
Konashenkov noted that nearly 40,000 people currently remain in Raqqah, which used to be home to over 200,000 residents before the US-led coalition's offensive.
Moscow's call for assessing the humanitarian situation in Raqqah comes after Russia has been implementing daily humanitarian pauses in the militant-held Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta to facilitate aid delivery as well as the exit of civilians from the counterterrorism operation zone.
On Saturday, the UN Security Council unanimously voted in favor of a resolution demanding a 30-day truce in Syria "without delay" to allow aid access and medical evacuations.
Eastern Ghouta has witnessed deadly violence over the past days, with foreign-sponsored terrorists there launching mortar attacks on the city in the face of an imminent humiliating defeat.
Western powers, however, blame the violence on the Syrian government's Russian-backed airstrikes.
The Russian military says terrorists in Syria are blocking civilian evacuations from Eastern Ghouta by shelling the route out of the area in defiance of the humanitarian ceasefire.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday that Russia has done its part to usher in calm in Eastern Ghouta.
Lavrov urged parties to the US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh in Syria "to ensure same humanitarian access to areas under their control, including Rukban refugee camp and the entire territory surrounding al-Tanf."
Russia says militants have forcibly held over 60,000 refugees in the al-Rukban camp.
Rukhban lies close to the Syrian border in Jordan, while the hugely-strategic al-Tanf is situated inside the Syrian territory, where Syrian, Jordanian, and Iraqi borders intersect. The US-led coalition has suspiciously been trying to exercise full control over al-Tanf, where Moscow says terrorists operate under the US military's nose.
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