Humanitarian corridor set up in Damascus, says Moscow
The Russian military said Syrian authorities will distribute leaflets with specifics about the evacuation.
The Syrian government has arranged a safe exit route for residents of a besieged rebel-held suburb of Damascus, according to the Russian military.
Major General Yuri Yevtushenko, the head of the Russian military’s Centre for Reconciliation in Syria, said Syrian government forces will maintain daily ceasefires in eastern Ghouta from 9am to 2pm.
He said Syrian authorities had set up a “humanitarian corridor” for civilians’ exit and would distribute leaflets with specifics about the evacuation.
Maj Gen Yevtushenko said al Qaida-linked militants and some rebel groups in eastern Ghouta are preventing civilians from leaving and using them as shields while continuing to shell the capital.
The announcement of the ceasefires comes two days after the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire across Syria.
The UN ceasefire failed to take hold as air strikes continued and Syrian ground forces fought to push into the besieged area from the west.
Civilians caught in the violence mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order of a limited, five-hour daily truce.
“It is like legitimising the strikes on civilians,” said activist Firas Abdullah, a resident of Douma, a town in the region where at least 13 members of a family were killed on Monday when their home collapsed after an air strike.
“They will be so kind to grant us a mere five hours when they will not bomb us. Then the rest of the day, they will bomb us as usual. It is like a permission to kill,” Mr Abdullah said.
The carnage in the eastern Ghouta region has killed more than 500 people since last week.
At least 34 were killed on Monday by air strikes and shelling, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
They will be so kind to grant us a mere five hours when they will not bomb us. Then the rest of the day, they will bomb us as usual. It is like a permission to kill Activist Firas Abdullah
The UN estimates that nearly 400,000 people live in dire conditions from the siege in eastern Ghouta, which has been under intensive bombing by government forces for weeks.
Other Ghouta residents also scoffed at the Russian move, saying it reminded them of a similar one for a besieged eastern district of Aleppo in 2016.
The political leader of the Army of Islam, the strongest rebel group in eastern Ghouta, called the Russian order “regrettable”, saying Moscow sought to circumvent the Security Council’s unanimously approved resolution.
“This (Russian) decision nullifies the legitimacy of the United Nations,” Mohammed Alloush said. “We want a total and lasting ceasefire in accordance with the UN resolution and one that opens corridors for humanitarian aid.”