Russia: Terrorists are not letting civilians leave East Ghouta, using them as human shields

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EAST GHOUTA, Syria – Major General Vladimir Zolotukhin, a representative of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Sides in Syria, told reporters that terrorists in East Ghouta continue to fire and provoke the daily humanitarian pauses in fighting between 9:00 A.M and 2:00 P.M. local time.

“A humanitarian corridor operates under control of the Russian center for reconciliation of warring sides. Nevertheless, militants do not stop provocations even during humanitarian pauses,” he said.

“Today, the area near the checkpoint came under sniper fire throughout the day. Besides, from 9.35 a.m. until 11.10 a.m. fire from small arms was opened four times on the humanitarian corridor, three local civilians received wounds.”

Zolotukhin then revealed that civilians cannot be evacuated as terrorist forces force them to be used as “human shields” against airstrikes.

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“For this purpose, the Jaysh al-Islam leaders deployed their command centers and fortifications to residential houses in populated localities of Ash-Shafuniya and Utaya. The illegal group’s actions coupled with their shelling of the city of Damascus and its outskirts are war crimes. Those guilty must be held accountable,” he said.

“Jihadists are planning to open mortar fire on the convoy and pin the blame on government forces. We demand the leaders of illegal armed groups halt provocations, abide by the cessation of hostilities and immediately provide unimpeded evacuations for civilians from the area of fighting,” he said in conclusion.

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