Russia: 6,000 US-backed militants residing in Syrian refugee camp
A Russian Defense Ministry official says the US is to be held responsible for the dire humanitarian situation in Syria's Rukban camp, warning that about 6,000 US-backed militants are currently residing besides civilian refugees at the shelter.
Yury Tarasov, the Russian representative to the Geneva-based task forces on ceasefire and humanitarian issues, made the remarks at a Friday conference about issues relating to the return of Syrian refugees.
He said Washington had occupied a region on the Syrian-Jordanian border where the refugee camp was situated.
The camp lies within a 55-kilometer zone controlled by the US around its military base in the Syrian town of At-Tanf.
"The whole responsibility for the outrageous situation in Rukban rests with the United States, as it occupies the territory illegally and it uses the humanitarian problems of the refugee camp to legitimize its military presence in the south of Syria," Tarasov said.
He further expressed Moscow's readiness to cooperate with international organizations on resolving the Rukban humanitarian crisis and evacuating the refugees willing to leave the shelter.
"As of today, one of the most urgent problems is the situation in the Rukban refugee camp, which is in an extremely difficult humanitarian situation. I want to note that the total number of temporarily displaced people in it is about 50,000 people, of which about 6,000 are militants of the Maghawir al-Thawra group controlled by the United States," he added.
Additionally, Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, the head of the Russian National Defense Control Center, told the conference that the situation in the Syrian refugee camp reminds one of the "World War II concentration camps."
He also complained about the silence of the international community and the media blackout regarding the Rukban situation.
"How have this become possible in the modern world?… Why does the global community, so much concerned about human rights, stubbornly keeps silent about the humanitarian catastrophe of the Rukban camp residents, while they are in fact hostages?" he asked.
Meanwhile, Russian Health Ministry spokesman Sergey Grabchak raised concerns about a "high mortality rate" caused by infectious diseases as well as the absence of medical assistance at the Syrian refugee camp.
"Over the past month alone, more than 100 people died in Rukban. I confirm the difficult, disastrous situation in Rukban," he said.