“Illegal armed groups inside the 55-kilometer zone impede the refugees’ exit from the Rukban camp, intimidate them and spread fallacy concerning the real intentions of the Russian side and Damascus,” Sergei Solomatin said on Friday.
The chief of Russia’s National Defense Control Center, Major General Mikhail Mizintsev, said earlier this week that the Russian and Syrian coordination centers on returning Syrian refugees had managed to open two humanitarian corridors for internally displaced people inside Rukban, Presstv Reported.
“The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria is calling upon the US side to exert pressure on the leaders of opposition groups and prevent disruption of the evacuation of civilians from the Rukban camp,” Solomatin said in a statement on February 19.
“Efforts will continue to help restoration of infrastructure and creation of conditions for the refugees to return home,” the Russian official added, noting since February 21, some 31,265 apartment units, 816 educational facilities and 139 medical ones had been restored while 1,008.8 kilometers of roads had been repaired.
Russian officials have accused the US and Washington-backed militants of holding people in Rukban hostage.
“We call on the American command and leaders of illegal militant groups in … al-Tanf region to put an end to the forcible keeping of women and children, mostly affected by cold, illness and malnutrition in the camp. All of them will be given necessary assistance,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on February 15 as a humanitarian convoy of the United Nations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) delivered aid, including medical supplies and basic commodities, to Rukban.
Konashenkov added that Russia and Syria would jointly establish a temporary housing area for refugees from the camp.
The UN says about 45,000 people, mostly women and children, are trapped inside Rukban, where conditions are desperate. This is while Geneva-based international aid agency Doctors Without Borders has put the number there at some 60,000.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that US forces were unlawfully deployed to al-Tanf region in southern Syria, training terrorists, who carry out acts of terror across Syria and prevent the return of displaced people in Rukban to their hometowns.
On January 12, a Syrian mother attempted to torch herself and her children to death in the camp after she failed to find food for her family for three straight days.
In October, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said people in Rukban had been without access to food and humanitarian aid for several months, highlighting that the tough situation was further complicated with a closed border by Jordan.