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Russian military arranges return of 9,500 refugees to Syria’s Rif Dimashq province

The negotiation process was rather difficult, according to the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the opposing sides in Syria

Al-BUWAIDAH /SYRIA/, January 23. /TASS/. Officers from the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the opposing sides in Syria have arranged the return of more than 9,500 refugees to the Al-Buwaidah settlement in the Rif Dimashq province.

"The negotiation process was rather difficult but we managed to succeed by making joint efforts," the Russian Center’s spokesman Major General Viktor Pankov told reporters. "We made a joint working visit to the settlement, assessed the situation, particularly its security aspect," he said, adding that "we managed to bring back 1,500 families, which is more than 9,500 refugees."

Five years ago, military activities forced the residents of Al-Buwaidah to leave the settlement located six kilometers away from the Syrian capital of Damascus. The positions of the so-called moderate opposition’s armed units are only 25 away from the settlement but despite that, the restoration of local infrastructure facilities is advancing at a fast pace. Water supplies have already been restored, as well as a hospital and several schools.

According to Syrian Minister for National Reconciliation Ali Haidar, the ministry has been cooperating with the Russian Center on a permanent basis. "Today’s mission is only a small part of the work that we have been carrying out together with the officers from the Center for Reconciliation," he said. "It was a joint decision to arrange the return of refugees, we made it after assessing the security situation and the current state of the settlement’s infrastructure. The Russian military officers also helped resolve a number of logistics issues," the minister added.

In the near future, the Russian military and the Syrian Ministry for National Reconciliation plan to implement an ambitious program aimed at the return of refugees. "Our cooperation is not limited to Al-Buwaidah. It concerns the entire southern region. We have made inspection visits to several other areas and we have joint plans [for the return of refugees - TASS] to be implemented in the near future," Haidar stressed.