MOSCOW, February 28. /TASS/. The humanitarian situation in Al-Tanf and Raqqa, controlled by the US-led coalition, is the most difficult is Syria, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday. According to him, international organizations need to take urgent measures to resolve the situation.
"Civilians in Syria have been facing the toughest predicaments in areas controlled by the US-led coalition and armed opposition groups answering to the coalition," Konashenkov said. "Following ambitious statements about the liberation of these areas from the ISIL [the former name of the Islamic State terror group outlawed in Russia - TASS], they have turned into black holes as the situation there is clear neither for the Syrian government nor international observers. Moreover, these very areas have become rest zones for militants where bandits who have replaced black ISIL flags with opposition banners, receive medical treatment and rearm to continue terrorizing civilians," he added.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, the situation remains tense in the Rukban refugee camp, located near the US military base in Al-Tanf. "Up to 60,000 refugees are forcefully detained by militant groups controlling the camp… commanders of illegal armed groups only allow those whose family members remain hostages in the camp to leave the Al-Tanf area," the general noted.
Konashenkov pointed to the high level of morbidity and mortality in the camp since 20 volunteer medics from Jordan are allowed to take severely ill people to the nearest hospital only "in exceptional cases."
"Humanitarian convoys and the evacuation of the sick to medical facilities in Damascus could improve the situation, as it is being done in Eastern Ghouta," the Russian general added.
"The situation of civilians in Raqqa, as we have many times stressed, can be described as a humanitarian catastrophe, which is being ignored by ‘liberators’ from the US-led coalition," Konashenkov said. He pointed out that air strikes had destroyed more than 80% of buildings in the city, while residential areas had lost water and electricity supplies.
"Bombs and improvised explosive devices planted in the city’s ruins have been detonating on a daily basis. Since the US-led coalition announced the liberation of Raqqa from the ISIL, nearly 400 civilians have died in such explosions," Konashenkov said.
According to him, around 40,000 people currently remain in Raqqa, while the city had a population of more than 200,000 before the US-led coalition’s offensive.
"However, despite the catastrophic situation in Raqqa, the US Department of State and the Pentagon have announced that they are not even considering infrastructure restoration programs," the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman stressed. "I would like to point out that the current situation in Raqqa is totally different from that in Aleppo and other Syrian cities liberated from terrorists, where restoration work is underway. Today, anyone may visit Aleppo to see that businesses and residential areas are being restored, while markets, rail terminals, airports, medical facilities and education institutions are open. Raqqa will see nothing of it as long it is controlled by the US occupation forces instead of the legitimate Syrian government," Konashenkov said.
"To resolve the difficult humanitarian situation in Raqqa and Al-Tanf, international organizations need to take urgent measures," the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman pointed out. "Syrian civilians cannot remain eternal hostage to Washington’s meaningless geopolitical games," he noted.