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Rukban tribal leaders say they trust Russia, Syria

They also expressed gratitude to the government of Syria for their efforts to accommodate of Rukban refugees

JLEB /Syria/, April 3. /TASS/. Elders of tribes locked up in the Rukban refugee camp said during a conference to disband the camp on Tuesday they had trust in Russia and the Syrian government.

"We started to trust the Russian and Syrian side, and this was fully demonstrated during the second coordination meeting. We will do our best to evacuate the people. We see that you are really willing to help," an elder from the Homs governorate, Muzat al-Abeyd, said.

Other community leaders confirmed that US military was preventing refugees from leaving the camp, located within the 55-km security zone surrounding the Tanf military base of the US forces.

They also expressed gratitude to the government of Syria for their efforts to facilitate the accommodation of Rukban refugees.

Syrian National Security Bureau Chief Brig. Gen. Iad Mandu announced that the Syrian government decided to set up a special commission to facilitate the evacuation of refugees from Rukban.

"A special commission has been set up. The Syrian government in coordination with the Russian side and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent is doing its best to facilitate and speed up the solution of the Rukban refugee camp issue. Women, children and the elderly will be allowed to return to their homes immediately after their identity and nationality is confirmed and their status is determined. They will be taken to locations which they will choose themselves," Mandu said.

Men who are willing to leave Rukban will be taken to the nearby facility for displaced persons to determine their status. The checks will take between 10 and 20 days, he said.

"At present, we received a permission to leave the camp for another group of 172 people. We are waiting for them any time they are ready. And we are ready to accept everyone willing to leave," the Syrian official said.

The only demand for those willing to enter the territories controlled by the Syrian government is that they hand over their weapons, he added.

On March 26, the head of the Russian center for the reconciliation of conflicting parties, Major-General Viktor Kupchishin, organized a coordination meeting at the Jleb checkpoint. Taking part in it were representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Syria, Russian officials, the president of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and leaders of tribes locked up in Rukban. US representatives were invited to this meeting as well but chose to ignore it. The second meeting on disbanding the camp was held on Tuesday, April 2, and US representatives skipped it as well.

The Rukban refugee camp emerged on the Syrian-Jordanian border in 2014 after Amman closed its border due to security and economic concerns. The area, which is controlled by illegal armed groups, is facing a severe humanitarian crisis.