Russian and Syrian Joint Coordination Headquarters Declare that the US Disrupts Humanitarian Operations to Assist Syrians Illegally Held in the US-Occupied al-Tanf Zone

Russian and Syrian joint coordination headquarters declare that the US disrupts a humanitarian operation to assist Syrians illegally held in the US-occupied al-Tanf zone

October 1, 2019

Due to the unprecedented measures taken by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic to solve the problem of the Rukban refugee camp and to bring Syrian citizens out of it to places of permanent residence, so far half of the inhabitants of this death camp have been saved and returned to their homes. Currently, 18,270 Syrians have returned from the camp to their places of permanent residence. This process has been launched solely through Syrian-Russian efforts.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs representatives checked houses intended for the resettlement of former Rukban refugees and confirmed their compliance with the international standards and positively appraised efforts of the Syrian authorities.

Without exception, the Syrian government guarantees security, respect of private property and protection against illegal persecution.

In order to finally solve the problem of the Rukban refugee camp, guided by an exclusively sincere desire to save its citizens, the Syrian government supported the operational plan developed by the United Nations to remove the remaining Rukban residents, fulfilled its obligations to ensure the work of the evaluation committee of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for refugees and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent; and also provided humanitarian assistance to the camp.

The practical part of the Operational Plan intended the withdrawal of Syrian citizens by parties from 2,000 to 2,500 people during five-day cycles, until the final withdrawal of all civilians who expressed a desire to leave the camp.

However, because of non-fulfillment of obligations by the American side, the implementation of that stage was actually disrupted.

On September 29, at the Jleb checkpoint, instead of more than 2,000 Syrian citizens planned for evacuation, we met a total number of 336 Syrians.

According to evidences from civilians who escaped from the camp, the so-called administration (in fact members of US-controlled gangs) actively promotes propaganda in order to prevent refugees from leaving the camp and, under the threat of death, forbids residents of Rukban to leave it. Those Syrians who even so managed to get out of the camp were forced to pay militants large sums of money for their release.

The Joint Coordination Headquarters of the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic strongly condemn the hypocritical approach of the American side to solve the refugee problem in Syria. On the one hand, the United States cynically agreed on a UN operational plan to remove the remaining Rukban residents and provided some security guarantees for the work of UN and SARC employees within the 55-kilometer Et-Tanf area, including inside the Rukban camp, but at the same time they didn’t actually take any measures to fulfill the obligations undertaken.

In accordance with international law, all responsibility for the situation in the territory of Syria illegally occupied by US, including the dire humanitarian situation in the camp, lies entirely on the command of American troops in the area of al-Tanf.

As part of implementation of the plan, the authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic fulfilled their obligations to ensure work in the camp of the evaluation committee of UNHCR and SARC. In addition, they provided humanitarian assistance to the camp.

The only obstacle for withdrawal of the remaining residents of the Rukban camp to pre-war places remains Washington’s reluctance to exert pressure on controlled gangs.

We draw the attention of the international community, and especially the heads of the humanitarian structures of the UN, that the bankruptcy of the promises made by the American side led to the disruption of the operation to withdraw refugees from the Rukban camp, and most of the humanitarian aid distributed by representatives of the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent once again fell into the hands of US-controlled militants.

In conditions when residents of the Rukban camp are held by US-controlled gangs hostages, neither humanitarian convoy with food would be able to resolve the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe there. Only its total elimination of the camp can stop the suffering of the Syrians who are held there against their will.

As the command of American troops in the area of Al-Tanf demonstrates the inability to secure the US taken commitments to implement the UN operational plan, we demand that the American side immediately leave the occupied territory of Syria and allow the legitimate Syrian government to establish constitutional order and clear the area of terrorists.

We appeal to the United Nations regional representatives responsible for resolving humanitarian issues in the Syrian Arab Republic with a request to evaluate the actions of the United States.

We urge United Nations entities to take all possible measures to fulfill their obligations to save Syrian citizens and complete the operation before the onset of cold weather.

We believe that the only way to restore Syria is through the final destruction of terrorism, the liberation of all territories of the country illegally occupied by the United States and its allies, and return of the Syrians to their homes.

Head of Russian Joint Coordination Committee on Repatriation of Syrian Refugees – Head of National Centre for State Defence Control of the Russian Federation

Mizintsev M.

Head of Syrian Joint Coordination Committee on Repatriation of Syrian Refugees – Local Administration Minister of the Syrian Arab Republic

Makhlouf H.