MOSCOW, November 2. /TASS/. Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Thursday statements about the situation in eastern Syria uttered by Major-General James Gerrard, the commander of special operations of the US-led Coalition to Combat the Islamic State, could be called nothing but strange.
"Commander of special operations of the US-led Coalition General Gerrard has recently outdone all of his colleague in his illusions about what is going on in eastern Syria," he said. "Anyway, it is rather strange to hear the coalition general talk geographical nonsense about ‘thousands of Arabs’ allegedly fleeing liberated Deir ez-Zor to Mayadin [southwards] and say they are heading not to the Arab-populated south but to the north."
"Especially for the command of special operations of the US coalition," the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman pointed out that the city of Mayadin is located some 40 kilometers south of Deir ez-Zor was liberated from Islamic State militants more than two weeks ago.
"That is why thousands of Syrians are not ‘fleeing’ Deir ez-Zor to that city but are returning to their homes with humanitarian aid delivered by the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Warring Parties and international organizations," he noted. "But no Syrian seems to be willing to flee Deir ez-Zor northwards, to liberated Raqqa. Because there is no Raqqa after bombings by the US-led coalition."
General Gerrard said earlier that thousands of Arabs are fleeing Deir ez-Zor to Mayadin not from the Islamic State but from the regime, which is liberating these cities. He noted that people are seeking shelter not in the south populated by Arabs, but in the north, which is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces.