Representative image Photograph:( Reuters )
Russia has dismissed the reports that it carried out airstrikes on eastern Ghouta that killed several civilians, calling them "fake news."
Russian news agency TASS quoted Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov as saying on Friday, "Reports from the British Syrian Observatory For Human Rights citing anonymous 'activists' from the village of Kafer Batna about alleged Russian airstrikes in Eastern Ghouta are yet another fake. Russia's air force performed no combat missions in the area of Eastern Ghouta."
The Russian military staying in this area are officers of the Russian centre for the reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria, said Konashenkov, adding that they have been given the work to ensure operation of humanitarian corridors, help civilians conduct ceasefire negotiations with armed opposition leaders.
"I would like to stress that these activities are carried out in the eyes of journalists, including from foreign media. Moreover, the Russian Defense Ministry has organized online broadcasting both from the ground and from unmanned aerial vehicles of the actual situation in Eastern Ghouta, around the humanitarian corridors that have already been used by more than 16,00 civilians to leave the area," he said.
In the past eight months, Syrian regime forces have intensified their siege of Eastern Ghouta, making it nearly impossible for food or medicine to get into the district and leaving thousands of patients in need of treatment.
Since February 19, escalating hostilities have resulted in 500 deaths and some 1,500 injuries in Eastern Ghouta, with 24 health facilities impacted by shelling and airstrikes, according to UN officials.
Eastern Ghouta, which houses around 400,000 residents, has remained under a crippling regime siege for the last five years with humanitarian access being completely cut off.
In May last year, Russia, Iran and Turkey signed an agreement to set up de-escalation zones, in order to prevent airstrike-related incidents in some parts of Syria.
The de-escalation zones include- Idlib province, some parts of Latakia province, Hama and Aleppo provinces, Homs, Eastern Ghouta, Daraa and al-Quneitra provinces in southern Syria.
Syria has been embroiled in a civil war since 2011. Protesters have been long demanding the resignation of President Assad over his autocratic rule.