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Russian defense minister calls on international organizations to send aid to Syria

Joint work of Russia and international humanitarian organizations will favor stabilizing of the situation with refugees, Sergei Shoigu continued

MOSCOW, August 13. /TASS/. Russia expects from international organizations assistance to civilians in Syria, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in an interview with the Rossiya 24 television channel on Sunday.

"Today we say: ‘Send [the aid] to the de-escalation zones, everything is open there. If you cannot transport, we shall transport for you.’ But we cannot be both the mother and the father. Thus, of course, here should be support from humanitarian organizations, from the United Nations Organization," he said.

Joint work of Russia and international humanitarian organizations will favor stabilizing of the situation with refugees, he continued. "Further on, refugees would return home, at first from inside Syria, what is happening already now, and then from other regions," he added.

De-blocking of Deir ez-Zor, which has been seized by the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) for a few years, would be a milestone in fighting terrorism in Syria, the minister said.

"Today, there are milestones, like Deir ez-Zor. I would say, first of all Deir ez-Zor. There, the fighting continues for years. To there, airdropped every week - two-three or even four times - are food, medicine and ammunition. This is probably the milestone on Euphrates, which will to a big extent say about finishing fighting IS," he said.

Earlier, the defense minister said the Syrian governmental forces with the support from the Russian Aerospace Force for the past two months liberat4ed the territory, which is double the size of the area Damascus controlled in 2015, by beginning of the Russian operation in that country. In late July, Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian General Staff said the Syrian forces controlled 74,200 square kilometers (against slightly over 19,000 by the time the Russian operation began).

De-escalation zones

On May 3-4, during the Astana peace talks, the Russian, Iranian, and Turkish delegations agreed to set up four de-escalation zones in Syria - in the Idlib Governorate and some parts of the neighboring Aleppo, Latakia and Hama Governorates; an area north of the Homs city, Eastern Ghouta and the southern Daraa and Quneitra Governorates. The agreement, which includes a no-fly zone, prohibits military activities in these areas from May. The document’s term is six months, with an optional further extension.

According to the defense minister, organization of the de-escalation zones continues the policy aimed at differentiating between terrorist organizations and the armed opposition. The opposition feared fighting militants of the Islamic State and Jabhat Al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia) inside the de-escalation zones, he said.