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Humanitarian assistance delivered to Syria’s Harasta near Damascus

March 21, 2016, 9:26 UTC+3 HARASTA

About 4,000 are staying in the city comared to the 60,000 before the conflict

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© Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry press service

HARASTA, March 21. /TASS/. The Russian-Syrian humanitarian cargo has been delivered to Harasta located along a key road connecting Damascus with another big city - Homs.

Deputy Governor of the Damascus Province Rateb Adas told reporters the government undertakes every effort to keep the people safe, not allowing terrorist inside the city, and to restore the local infrastructures.

"We, being representatives of the power, try to restore the infrastructures in Harasta, as there are many civilians here as well as armed groups, which support the truce," he said. "Everything is organized with involvement of mediators and with the Army’s guarantees of security and assuring they would not allow here the radicals from Eastern Ghouta."

The deputy governor thanked the locals, who would not allow militants inside the city and said now the authorities are trying to restore electricity supplies, and a week earlier they organized vaccination for all the children who required them - the total of about 400 children. Before the conflict, Harasta’s population was about 60,000, now only about 4,000 are staying in the city.

At the same time, a representative of the opposition’s armed unit Abdul Alhai Gbes told reporters the opposition he represents had joined the national reconciliation process and thanked Russia for delivery of humanitarian assistance.

"We already have many civilians here, but on there are many obstacles on their way back home. There is no gas, no electricity, we are in a blockade," he said. "We are grateful to Russia - it has delivered first to Khmeimim and then to here the humanitarian assistance, while the Red Cross, though we are two steps from Damascus, still cannot get to us."

He said the locals would not want to hand over their weapons because of the militants, who are still holding central districts of Harasta. The state should give absolute guarantees of safety to the people, and only then the process of disarmament could be successful.

"We need to find a solution to this problem, as we do not want this country to face a deadlock," he continued. "We have lost half of the country, so let us keep the other half. We should sit around a table to settle the problems, but the third party, which finances the militants, would not let us do so."

A member of the local reconciliation committee Hassan Khabaz said most people living in Harasta are trying to protect themselves from attacks of terrorists.

"People here, who have guns in their hands, are defending themselves, their houses, and also our city," he said. "Most importantly, here there are no foreign mercenaries. All, who are here, are sons of the Ghouta region."

He expressed confidence if the people feel secure and if they have work he would not have any more reasons to keep arms in hands.

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