Russia says it has offered anti-Damascus militants safe passage out of the Eastern Ghouta region, which they have been using as a launch pad for deadly terrorist attacks on civilians in the Syrian capital.
Major-General Yuri Yevtushenko, head of the Russian peace and reconciliation center in Syria, announced in a statement on Tuesday that Moscow would provide transport and a secure corridor for those militants who agree to leave Eastern Ghouta.
“If you do not wish to let the civilians out from the held areas, we are ready to guarantee a safe passage from Eastern Ghouta for you and your families. For that purpose there will be enough transport provided as well as security will be guaranteed along the whole route,” he said.
The militants leaving Eastern Ghouta with personal weapons and with their families would be guaranteed immunity from prosecution, he added.
“We call upon the leaders of all illegal armed groups to make everything possible to as soon as possible release the civilians from suffering and secure unobstructed delivery of humanitarian aid to Eastern Ghouta,” Yevtushenko said.
From inside the region, foreign-backed militants have been launching indiscriminate mortar and rocket attacks on Damascus, which have resulted in many civilian deaths.
The Syrian army, backed by Russian air force, has launched an operation to liberate the region from a host of militant groups, the strongest of which is the Takfiri Jaish al-Islam outfit.
Syria has established humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to leave the operation zone, but the militants holed up there are blocking the exit of people, using them as human shields in the face of the government’s liberation operation.
However, Western powers and mainstream media have been trying to put the blame for the Eastern Ghouta situation on the Damascus government.
On February 24, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously passed a resolution demanding a month-long ceasefire across Syria to allow for humanitarian aid deliveries and medical evacuations, but that has failed to reduce terrorist attacks on civilians.
The truce does not apply to operations against Takfiri terror groups such as Daesh and al-Nusra Front along with “individuals, groups, undertakings and entities” associated with the terror outfits.
On Monday, the Russian military said Washington was flouting the UNSC resolution by failing to prevent the militants it controls from launching daily raids on the Syrian army troops in Eastern Ghouta and shelling Damascus.