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Militants hamper evacuation efforts in Eastern Ghouta

The negotiations seeking to find a peace solution to the Eastern Ghouta crisis had been derailed, Russian officers said

MOSCOW, February 21. /TASS/. Militant groups fighting in Eastern Ghouta hinder evacuations of civilians from the area of hostilities, the Russian center for reconciliation of warring sides in Syria said on Wednesday.

"Eastern Ghouta is facing a critical humanitarian, social and economic situation. The Russian reconciliation center’s calls on illegal armed groups in Eastern Ghouta to stop fighting, lay down arms and settle their status yielded no result," the center said.

"The groups of illegal armed formations operating in Eastern Ghouta hamper civilians’ evacuation from controlled areas through a checkpoint near Muheim al-Wafideen," the statement says.

The negotiations seeking to find a peace solution to the Eastern Ghouta crisis had been derailed, Russian officers said.

Over the past 24 hours, militants have shelled Damascus and neighboring populated localities in the Rif Dimashq province 21 times, the center says.

Russian officers delivered clothing to civilians in al-Tell, Damascus province. Citizens of Salkhiyah, Deir ez-Zor province, received drinking water.

"In the past 24 hours, 219 Syrians returned to their homes. Among them are twelve in the Homs province, nine in Rif Dimashq and 198 in the Deir ez-Zor province," the Russian reconciliation center said.

Since mid-September, four de-escalation zones have been operating in Syria. They cover the Idlib Province, some parts of its neighboring areas in the Latakia, Hama and Aleppo Provinces north of the city of Homs, Eastern Ghouta, as well as the Daraa and al-Quneitra Provinces in southern Syria.

Russian reconciliation center

The Russian reconciliation center continues to fulfill assigned tasks after the completion of the military campaign in Syria. The center’s officers regularly travel around the country's liberated areas to assess the humanitarian situation. The main efforts of the Russian military are now focused on assistance to the refugees returning to their homes and evacuation of civilians from de-escalation zones.

They are also tasked with lending humanitarian assistance to the Syrian population, coordinating work to restore the infrastructure in war-torn regions, assisting in the return of refugees and in the integration of those militants who have laid down arms into peaceful life, as well as monitoring the ceasefire.