Moscow, SANA – Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova affirmed on Wednesday that the humanitarian aid issue in Syria is being increasingly politicized and most of the UN aid is delivered to the militants, including terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra.
In her weekly press conference, Zakharova said that Russia in cooperation with the Syrian side has repeatedly introduced humanitarian pauses in Aleppo to help civilians, but the militants used the truce to regroup and replenish their arms and ammunition.
She expressed Moscow’s readiness to work with international humanitarian organizations in delivering humanitarian aid to the affected people in Syria.
“We strongly believe that humanitarian issues should not become a tool for political pressure or serve as means of flirting with terrorists or shielding them,” she added.
Responding to a question about US promises to send humanitarian aid to eastern Aleppo, Zakharova affirmed that there are contradictions between the statements of the Americans and their actions, pointing out that the US gave many promises about striking the terrorists of Jabhat al-Nusra, separating them from what they called “moderate opposition,” and cooperating with Russia in this regard, but the facts prove that the Americans’ promises are one thing while their actions are another.
Zakharova noted that the Syrian Arab Army is restoring control gradually over the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo and managing to defeat “illegal armed formations” in many residential areas.
The Russian spokeswoman slammed the so called “White Helmets” group over a video showing members of the group offering humanitarian aid to civilians, noting that while the White Helmets were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, such footage is more suitable for the Oscars.
Also on the subject of aid, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said that two days after over 90,000 Aleppo residents were freed from terrorists, no offer of humanitarian assistance came from the office of UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, the British and French Foreign Ministries or the US State Department.
Konashenkov pointed out to the previous US, UK, UN and French demands to provide humanitarian access to eastern Aleppo when it was held by the militants, adding “Apparently, the [humanitarian] assistance was destined for certain other people living in the eastern parts of Aleppo,” highlighting the absence of the above-mentioned sides’ interest in providing civilians with humanitarian aid after all the necessary conditions for the aid delivery had been created.
He went on to note that the Russian center for Reconciliation and the authorities in Aleppo have provided the daily necessities to 5,629 civilians, including 2,855 children, who had left the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo, adding that Russia has also provided a mobile multidiscipline hospital and a team of doctors to care which will arrive in Syria today.
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the recent statements made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regarding President Bashar al-Assad run counter to Russia’s understanding of the situation in Syria, and that Moscow is awaiting clarifications from Ankara in this regard.
Peskov told journalists that Erdogan’s statements were surprising, and that they are very serious, adding that what was said in them had not been voiced in Erdogan’s phone talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In the same context, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that Erdogan’s statements run counter to all international agreements on Syria which Turkey had agreed to, including Resolution 2254, Resolution 2268, and the decisions of the Vienna format and the Lausanne format, noting that Turkey had participated in both these formats.
Russian General Staff: Russian squad to be sent to Aleppo to contribute to removing mines
Russian General Staff revealed on Wednesday that Russian experts specialized in removing explosive devices and mines will be sent to Syria to take part in clearing Aleppo city’s eastern neighborhoods of mines.
In a press statement published by RT website, Head of the Main Operations Department at Russia’s General Staff Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoi said that a demining squad affiliated to Russian Armed Forces will be sent on Wednesday to Aleppo where over 200 Russian servicemen and around 50 pieces of combat and special equipment will be deployed to dismantle mines that were planted by terrorists in the eastern neighborhoods.
Engineer units of the Syrian Army have immediately started to de-mine the areas, Rudskoy said, saying that in some neighborhoods, water supplies have been already restored.
“Following a request from Syrian authorities, specialists from Russia’s Defense Ministry will conduct examinations in areas of possible production and storage of chemical weapons in districts of Aleppo liberated from terrorists,” Rudskoy said.
The military official added that Russian radiation, chemical and biological security specialists would be deployed following “confirmed reports” that militants used handmade chemical weapons against civilians in Aleppo.
“The Russian Aerospace Forces have stopped flights around Aleppo since October 18, for a total of 44 days. The Russian combat jets are flying at least at the 10-km radius around the city,” Rudskoy affirmed.
He said that terrorists in the eastern neighborhoods are blowing up schools, hospitals and mosques and then send the footage of the destroyed buildings to Western media outlets claiming that this destruction is a result of strikes by Syrian planes and artillery.
Commenting on the humanitarian operations in Aleppo, Rudskoy denied the existence of any barriers on delivering aid to Aleppo, noting that al-Castello Road being under the Syrian Army contributed to removing these barriers.
He pointed out that the UN and other international organizations have not provided any support to the humanitarian operations carried out by the Syrian and Russian sides in Aleppo, calling on the international organizations to intensify their humanitarian work due to the difficult humanitarian situation in the areas from where terrorists have been expelled.
Manar al-Freih / Hazem Sabbagh/Manal