Russian MoD: E. Ghouta terrorists use civilians as ‘human shields,’ plan to sabotage UN aid – Civilians form armed groups to combat militant factions and escape – By RT (SOTT)

Tarma in the eastern Ghouta region

© Ammar Suleiman / AFP
Tarma in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on March 2, 2018

Terrorists in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta are hiding in civilians’ homes, taking away food and stealing instructions on how to pass through the humanitarian corridor. Militants also plan to shell aid convoys, the Russian military said.

The militants are continuing their activities during the daily humanitarian pauses, and on Saturday before noon they opened fire four times at the humanitarian corridor in besieged Eastern Ghouta, injuring three locals, Major General Vladimir Zolotukhin, a spokesman for the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria, stated.

Jaysh al-Islam terrorists try to cover their command posts in civilian infrastructure and use locals’ homes for this purpose. They also use underground tunnels, according to the general.

“These actions of militias, as well as their continuing shelling of Damascus and its suburbs, are war crimes and the perpetrators must be brought to justice,” Zolotukhin said.

The terrorists “take away food from people” during “massive searches” to further deteriorate the humanitarian situation in the area, according to the Russian Center for Reconciliation.

The militants also deprive people of special brochures with instructions on how to pass through the humanitarian corridor. Some 100,000 brochures were dropped above the Damascus suburb, instructing the civilians to hold them above their heads while passing.

The Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria has also warned that “jihadists are plotting mortar shelling of [the UN humanitarian] convoy and putting the blame on the government forces.”

Earlier, the Syrian government “got information about provocations prepared by the Jabhat al-Nusra, Feylaq al-Rahman and Akhrar al-Sham [terrorist groups] using poisonous agents” in Eastern Ghouta, the Russian military said. The chemical attack is being prepared to give the West an opportunity “to blame the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against the people.”

Russia has repeatedly called on the militants to observe the ceasefire and let civilians flee the area, as they are being held as “human shields” to stop strikes from government forces. Ignoring those calls, the militants continue to prevent civilians from fleeing and sabotage the humanitarian operation there. On Friday, two children, a boy and a girl, managed to flee Eastern Ghouta overnight via a humanitarian corridor while being fired upon.

A daily humanitarian pause to give civilians an opportunity to escape the conflict areas was established in Eastern Ghouta on February 27. Earlier in February, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution proposing a 30-day humanitarian ceasefire in Syria. The ceasefire does not apply to members of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), Al-Nusra Front or any other terrorist organizations.

Comment: Civilians in insurgent-controlled areas of Damascus’ East Ghouta region are beginning to form armed groups to combat militant factions and escape towards government-held areas according to reports by Russian military sources.

Reports state that what started off as protests against militant groups in East Ghouta by disillusioned ‘civic activists’ is now slowly turning into a grass-roots counter-insurgency movement.

Maj. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko, a spokesman for the Russian Reconciliation for Syria, said earlier today that the situation around the humanitarian corridor in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta remains tense, with militant snipers regularly firing at access routes.

“(The) situation near the check point is still strained. Since yesterday evening, snipers have been shelling at approaches to the check point. Today, the Jeish al-Islam terrorists have carried out two mortar attacks from Eastern outskirts of Douma targeting the security corridor leading to the checkpoint near al-Waffedeen,” Yevtushenko said.

According to Yevtushenko, residents of Eastern Ghouta are provided with information about exit routes and rules for safe leaving the area through the humanitarian corridor.

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