Russian Foreign Ministry on the situation in Syria

In the media, the propaganda about Syria has buckled a little, which is certainly due to the situation in Turkey, Greece and the invented Ukraine scandal. That is why I would like to repeat the words of the Russian Foreign Ministry on the situation in Syria.

We consider the situation in Syria to be stable. There are hotbeds of tension in the territories that are not controlled by the Syrian Government – in Idlib and the country’s northeast. Despite the truce unilaterally introduced by the government troops on August 31, the terrorists in the Idlib de-escalation zone continue shelling the Syrian army’s positions and civilian communities daily. On the whole, the number of attacks by extremists is growing: 823 attacks were recorded in August and 972 in September.

The situation in the northeast also remains complicated. On the one hand, the resistance of the Arab population against the local governments is growing while on the other, ISIS sleeping cells have become more active. In September, the terrorists committed 20 acts of terror, killing 40 and wounding 27 Kurdish fighters.

We have received alarming reports from the Rukban camp for internally displaced persons, which is located in the south of the country in the zone of illegal US occupation. An additional humanitarian cargo was delivered there on September 26-28. Civilians were supposed to leave the camp (about 2,500 people at the first stage). However, only 336 people were brought to the territory controlled by the Syrian authorities on September 29. The refugees said militants from the US-sponsored illegal armed group Mahavir as-Saura banned civilians from leaving the camp under the threat of death. Those Syrians who managed to escape had to pay the militants large sums of money for their release. It transpired that a big part of the humanitarian convoy again landed in the hands of Mahavir as-Saura. We reaffirm that the grievous situation in Rukban is primarily caused by the illegal US occupation and Washington’s systematic failure to fulfil its commitments of an occupying power under international humanitarian law. These commitments stipulate ensuring the protection and safety of civilians on controlled territories.

At the same time, mass disorders in which members of foreign militants’ families took part broke out in the al-Houl IDP camp, which is also located in the areas that are illegally occupied by the United States. Fighters from the Kurdish security services used firearms and some people were killed and wounded. Obviously, Kurdish fighters find it increasingly difficult to control the camp, which has turned into a terrorist colony with 70,000 people. Every week the threat that the terrorists will flee al-Houl and spread throughout Syria, other countries in the region and Europe is growing. As in the case of Rukban, the responsibility for what is happening in al-Houl –the worsening humanitarian situation and uncontrolled fleeing of ISIS militants – rests with the United States and its coalition allies that control the country’s northeast in violation of all norms of international law.

Against this background we note the Syrian Government’s steps to advance the process of national reconciliation. President Bashar al-Assad signed an executive order on general amnesty that provides for reduced punishment for non-serious crimes committed before September 14, 2019.

The number of Syrians that have returned home is growing every day. Over 420,000 people came home after the launch of the Russian initiative on the return of IDPs and refugees to Syria in July 2018.

In addition, Syria continues to restore political, economic, social and cultural ties with other countries in the region and the rest of the world.

The fifth ‘Let’s Restore Syria’ construction fair opened in Damascus in the middle of September. About 400 companies from 31 countries, including Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela and Belarus, are taking part in it.

In late September, Damascus hosted an international conference on education. It was attended by over 1,500 education professionals from Russia, Germany, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Iran and India.

In late September, a delegation of Italian MPs met with the top Syrian leaders in Damascus. The participants on both sides noted the importance of the objective coverage of events without politicisation as well as positive changes in Syria.

The Abu Kamal border checkpoint reopened on the Syrian-Iraqi border on September 30. The authorities plan to establish railway service between Damascus and Homs.

Russia also continues contributing to Syria’s peaceful future. In September, RusInformExport, a Rostec subsidiary, completed the infrastructure necessary to launch the e-government in Syria. A secondary general education school for boys restored with Russian funds reopened in a district of Damascus on September 23. Damascus University hosted the second exhibition of Russian universities, which was attended by representatives of 19 best higher education institutions.

I would like to draw your attention to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the Valdai Club forum yesterday, which were devoted to the problems of the Middle East and North Africa. Mr Lavrov discussed in detail the causes of crises and ways to overcome long-term or new crises. The transcript and video are available on the Foreign Ministry’s website. Today, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Asharq Al-Awsat pan-Arab daily, available in Russian and Arabic, was also published on the Foreign Ministry’s website.