MOSCOW, April 4. /TASS/. The humanitarian operation to provide help to the Eastern Ghouta population will end in several days, said Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy, head of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian General Staff, on Wednesday.
"The humanitarian operation in Eastern Ghouta should be completed within several days," Rudskoy said at the seventh Moscow International Security Conference that is being held on April 4-5.
He specified that "the militants are leaving the last community controlled by illegal armed groups, Douma."
The general noted that a total of 156,620 people have been taken from the enclave since the launch of the humanitarian pauses, and now refugees start returning to the areas liberated from militants. According to Rudskoy, about 45,000 people have returned to their homes.
Armed opposition groups took control of the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta in 2011. Since 2016, the area had been controlled by the Jabhat al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia) and Jaysh al-Islam terror organizations, as well as the Ahrar al-Sham, Faylaq al-Ra·man and Fajr al-Umma groups linked to them. In 2017, the area became a de-escalation zone, and deliveries of food and humanitarian supplies began there.
In February 2018, Syrian authorities launched Operation Damascus Steel to rid the suburb of terrorists because of ceasefire violations by the militants. After the adoption of UN Resolution 2401 on February 24, 2018, which calls to end hostilities in Syria, daily five-hour humanitarian pauses from 09:00 to 14:00 local time (from 10:00 to 15:00 Moscow time) were launched in Eastern Ghouta on February 27 at Russia’s initiative.