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East Ghouta militants use women, children as human shield — Russian military

Extremist groups operating in the era continue to violate the ceasefire

MOSCOW, March 6. /TASS/. Militants in Eastern Ghouta are holding hostage women and children using them as a human shield, Major-General Yuri Yevtushenko, Head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Warring Parties, said on Tuesday.

"The militants act arbitrarily against civilians in Eastern Ghouta up to public executions, prohibiting them to leave the area under the threat of death. They seize food, medicines, drinking water and private vehicles from people. Senior citizens, women and children are forcibly held hostage and used as a human shield," Yevtushenko said.

He stressed that the extremist groups operating in the era continue to violate the ceasefire.

Only thirteen civilians managed to leave Eastern Ghouta with the UN humanitarian convoy, as the militants put obstacles to the evacuation of civilian population, Yevtushenko went on.

"We managed to send away only thirteen peaceful people with the returning convoy," he said. "Five of that number were children."

Gen Yevtushenko said the Russian military were prepared to evacuate more than a thousand sick and wounded persons, but the militants disrupted this opportunity.

He said that as of today, only 17 people managed to leave Eastern Ghouta via the Al-Wafideen humanitarian corridor.

Yevtushenko said that despite the complicated security situation, the Russian Center for Reconciliation ensured the delivery of aid by the United Nations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to the city of Duma. A total of 45 trucks delivered 247 tonnes of food and medicines.

"The convoy’s passage was controlled by Russian drones. All attempts by militants to stage provocations were prevented in time, there were no casualties among aid convoy workers and civilians," he added.