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US forces in Syria bar entry to convoys sent to Rukban camp — Russian defense ministry

Head of the Russian reconciliation center Sergei Solomatin said the US turned down the joint request of Russian and Syrian refugee centers to allow the convoy to pass through the Al-Tanf security zone

MOSCOW, March 2. /TASS/. The United States has not allowed the transport convoys dispatched to evacuate refugees from the Rukban camp to pass through the Al-Tanf zone controlled by US troops, Lieutenant General Sergei Solomatin, the chief of the Russian Center for reconciliation of the conflicting sides in Syria, told reporters on Saturday.

"Despite the fact that the authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic have successfully finished all preparations for refugees’ evacuation from the Rukban camp to the places of pre-war residence, the US turned down a joint request of the Russian and Syrian inter-departmental coordination centers for relocation and accommodation of refuges to allow the transport convoys into the Al-Tanf zone," Solomatin said.

On Friday, buses were sent to the Djleb checkpoint to evacuate refugees from the Rukban camp to their permanent residence places in the settlements of Al Khalidiyah, Al-Amarah, Palmyra, Mhin, Al Karyatein, and the outskirts of Damascus, Homs and Aleppo.

The Rukban camp is located in the Al-Tanf security zone, home to a US military base. Militants from armed opposition groups have blocked access to the security zone. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Rukban camp is currently hosting about 40,000 people, mostly women and children. Several inhabitants have died in the camp due to dire conditions.