Moscow confirms role in Eastern Ghouta offensive

Moscow, Russia Published: Mar 15, 2018, 12:00 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

Moscow said on Thursday that it was committed to helping Syria's regime "finish off" rebels in Eastern Ghouta, confirming its military is playing a role in the assault on the rebel enclave. 

Russia has provided few details of its involvement in the offensive on Ghouta but Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday left no doubt Moscow's forces were taking an active part. 

"We will continue fighting terrorists, we will finish them off, we will help finish them off in Eastern Ghouta, where the Syrian army is now conducting operations with our support," he said. 

Since President Vladimir Putin ordered the partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria late last year, the military has released little information about its involvement. 

Moscow has been overseeing efforts to evacuate civilians out of the Eastern Ghouta enclave near Damascus through a humanitarian corridor.

It has labelled rebel groups from that area "terrorists" who are not protected under the current ceasefire.

Eastern Ghouta has been the target of a blistering government assault for the past month, causing a humanitarian emergency. The offensive, backed by bombing, has split the enclave into three sections.

The Syrian Observatory monitor has blamed both Damascus and Moscow for massive civilian casualties in Eastern Ghouta, though Russia has never admitted to participating in the bombing.

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