Russian diplomat refutes reports on evacuation deal between Damascus, IS terrorists

On July 25, a series of terror attacks were carried out in the Al-Suwayda Governorate in southern Syria

Russian diplomat refutes reports on evacuation deal between Damascus, IS terrorists

On July 25, a series of terror attacks were carried out in the Al-Suwayda Governorate in southern Syria

MOSCOW, August 3. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denied reports on Friday that the Syrian government and the Islamic State terror group (outlawed in Russia) struck a deal on evacuating militants to southern Syria.

The diplomat commented on a statement by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

"We want to note that the OHCHR’s statement intentionally and I should say shamelessly twists and distorts facts. There has been no evacuation of the IS from Yarmouk, Al-Hajar al-Aswad and al-Tadamon to southern Syria. There are no agreements between the Syrian government and the militants on this," the diplomat stressed.

OHCHR’s Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said the IS militants, who committed atrocities in southwestern Syria’s As-Suwayda, had been earlier evacuated there from other Syrian regions under truce agreements.

Shamdasani explained that this deal gave a choice to the militants to either reconciliate with the government or be sent to other regions in the country, which are not controlled by Damascus. The spokesperson called on the Syrian government not to put civilians’ lives at risk.

On July 25, a series of terror attacks were carried out in the Al-Suwayda Governorate in southern Syria, killing nearly 250 people. The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the explosions.

The refugees issue
As many as 1.7 mln Syrian refugees have expressed a wish to return to their home country, Maria Zakharova has stressed.

"According to summary information, 45 countries are currently hosting more than 6.8 mln refugees, including 2 mln women and 3.5 mln children," she said. "The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that Turkey is hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees - more than 3.5 mln - while 975,000 refugees are residing in Lebanon and another 566,000 in Jordan. Meanwhile, as many as 1.7 mln Syrian refugees have expressed a wish to return to their home country from Brazil, Germany, Denmark, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey," Zakharova noted.

She also said that while working to implement Moscow’s initiative for the return of Syrian refugees, the Russian Foreign and Defense ministries were maintaining close contacts with the authorities of countries hosting Syrian refugees in order to get exact information about their numbers.

Last week, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin made visits to Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, which were focused on the Syrian refugee issue. Lavrentyev later said in an interview with TASS that Moscow had proposed to Ankara that a plan of refugee activities be made in order to facilitate the return of refugees to their places of permanent residence.

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