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Jabhat al-Nusra plans to sabotage UN aid delivery — Russian Defense Ministry

"Terrorists are set to open mortar fire on the convoy and blame the government forces for the attack," a Russian military official said

MOSCOW, March 3. /TASS/. Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists are planning to stage a provocation by shelling the United Nations aid convoy and pinning the blame on the Syrian government forces, Maj Gen Yuri Yevtushenko, the chief of the Russian center for reconciliation of opposing sides in Syria, said on Saturday.

"Reports say that militants of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group (banned in Russia) are staging a provocation with the aim to derail the delivery of humanitarian aid by a UN convoy to the populated locality of Douma, scheduled for the near future," he said. "Terrorists are set to open mortar fire on the convoy and blame the government forces for the attack."

"Illegal armed groups’ activities, their shelling of Damascus and bar to evacuation of the civilian population are war crimes," the general said. "We demand the leaders of illegal armed groups stop arbitrary use of force against local residents, stop armed provocations and provide safe exits for people from dangerous areas," Yevtushenko said.


Humanitarian pauses

On February 24, the UN Security Council in a unanimous vote approved the resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire across Syria to allow aid access to the population. The Security Council’s 15 members, including Russia, voted for the document.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu on Monday said that on instructions from Russian President Vladimir Putin a daily humanitarian pause was introduced in Eastern Ghouta (a suburb of Damascus) from 09:00 to 14:00 local time, starting from Tuesday, February 27. In the village of Al-Wafideen, the Syrian authorities and the Russian center for reconciliation of warring sides created conditions for civilians evacuating along the only humanitarian corridor connecting Damascus and Eastern Ghouta.

The first humanitarian pauses were derailed by militants, the Russian center said. Terrorists incessantly opened mortar fire on the safe exit from the area. In addition, residents are being forcibly held in Eastern Ghouta controlled by terrorists and are threatened with death for wishing to leave it.