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Briefing by First Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff Lieutenant General Viktor Poznikhir

Large-scale humanitarian operation held by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation jointly with Syrian authorities is at the final stage. In total, 165,123 people, including 20,398 insurgents and 38,133 their family members have left the Eastern Ghouta.

Illegal armed formations are leaving Douma. This is the last city left by insurgents in the area. 

Over the last five days, no provocations have been registered as well as shelling and combat actions.

Under the auspices of the Russian Centre for Reconciliation and the Syria Arab Army, 41,312 people, including 3,354 insurgents and 8,642 their family members have left Douma.

The Russian Reconciliation Centre continues taking efforts to make insurgents release hostages. Due to reached agreements, Jaysh al-Islam have released 195 people.

Tomorrow, units of the Russian military police will be deployed in Douma to preserve public order and provide assistance to civilians.

Citizens of the Eastern Ghouta are receiving humanitarian assistance from the United Nations and the Russian Reconciliation Centre. Three humanitarian convoys of the UN have delivered 445 tons of food and medical supplies as well as bare necessities.

The Russian troops have delivered 518 tons of food supplies, field kitchen, more than 9,000 liters of bottled water, 8,457 sets of bed linen, more than 114,000 sets with food supplies.

The Russian government has launched a large-scale recovery of civilian infrastructure in the Eastern Ghouta.

In total, situation in the Eastern Ghouta is stabilizing.

Refugees are returning to towns and villages. In total, about 60,000 people have returned to their homes.

However, success of Russia and Syria do not satisfy all countries.

Illegal armed formations took numerous efforts to organize provocations of chemical weapons use in the Eastern Ghouta in order to accuse Syrian government troops.

These provocations and means for their organizations have been detected by the Syrian government and the Russian Reconciliation Centre in advance. Mass media and international society reported on these facts.

Detection of a workshop for fitting munitions with poisonous agents in an underground tunnel in Hazrama on March 3 is just one of many cases.

Since the start of the humanitarian operation in the Eastern Ghouta, terrorists have failed to organize any so-called chemical attack against civilians.

Therefore, insurgents took the last effort to fabricate false evidence in order to accuse the Syrian government of using chemical weapons in the Eastern Ghouta. The White Helmets operating only among terrorists imitated another ‘chemical attack’ against civilians in Douma and filmed it.

It is to be reminded that since 2013 representatives of this pseudo organization jointly with terrorists were organizing such staging in different areas of Syria using children and infants. Video evidence of these ‘chemical attacks’ staging was available for the international community many times.

On April 9, some 24 hours after an alleged chemical attack, Russian NBC protection specialists as well as military medics arrived at the ‘incident’ site. 

The NBC protection specialists took samples of soil and fragmentations from the alleged chemical attack site. Expertise showed that there were used no nerve gas or chlorine substances.

The specialists explored the territory, visited a medical establishment, which had been showed by the White Helmets, and spoke to medical staff and sick person. However, they found neither facts of chemical weapons use nor injured.

Doctors of the medical establishment, civilians, and insurgents, who were leaving Douma, knew nothing about injured and chemical weapons use. 

Military medics of the Russian Reconciliation Centre visited the only hospital, saw patients, and found no people injured from sarin and chlorine.

They also detected no bodies of victims of the chemical attack. The medical staff and civilians had no information about possible grave sites.

The Russian party is concerned by statements made by a representative of the World Health Organization, Peter Salama, about 500 injured from toxic agents in Douma.

Over the last hours, the Russian party had a conversation with representatives of the Syrian Red Crescent and local office of the United Nations in Syria taking part in humanitarian operation in the Eastern Ghouta in order to locate these injured.

However, nobody had information, which had been voiced by the World Health Organization.

If representatives of this organization want to understand this situation, we invite them to East Ghouta and are ready to provide security and all conditions for work.

We also want to remind that in 2015, representatives of the World Health Organization during the humanitarian operation in Aleppo repeatedly made statements about the allegedly catastrophic situation and the lack of drugs in the areas controlled by the militants.

However, after the liberation of Aleppo, overcrowded terrorist warehouses were discovered with imported medicines and medical equipment, including those supplied to Syria by WHO.

Despite numerous appeals from Russia, the leadership of this organization has not provided any information or explanations on this issue.

Therefore, such irresponsible statements by the representative of the World Health Organization from a high rostrum not only discredit the organization, but also contribute to a new round of escalation of the situation and difficult to predict consequences, primarily for the peaceful population of Syria.

Unlike the WHO, on April 10 the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons made a formal decision to send a special mission to the city of Douma to conduct an objective investigation.

For our part, we reaffirm our readiness to ensure the full safety of the OPCW specialists in the city of the Douma and to create all conditions for their inspector activity.

Despite attempts by hostile forces to disrupt the activities of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in stabilizing the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, this work continues.

In total, 9,111 people returned to the province of Aleppo from Idlib de-escalation zone through the humanitarian corridor near the settlements of Abu Duhur and Tell-Sultan.

Under the supervision of the Committee for the Management of Eastern Territories and with the assistance of the Center for the Reconciliation of opposing sides, rehabilitation of life support facilities is underway in the province of Deir ez-Zor. Since the beginning of December last year, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River 37,000 662 civilians have returned to their homes.

In addition, yesterday in the city of Deir ez-Zor the local administration transferred a bridge across the Euphrates River built by Russian specialists. The commissioning of this bridge will increase the delivery of humanitarian aid, the construction of materials and other vital cargoes to the eastern bank of the river.

The Russian Center for the Reconciliation of opposing sides continues work on the peaceful settlement of the conflict and the normalization of the humanitarian situation throughout Syria.

At present, 2,501 settlements have joined the reconciliation process.

With the leaders of the armed formations, 234 application forms have been signed and sent to the Russian Reconciliation Center for the cessation of hostilities.

The situation in the city of Raqqa remains a serious concern, where the extremely complicated epidemiological situation remains.

Instead of declaring the readiness to launch missile strikes against Syria, the United States should have been engaged in rebuilding the ruined city and providing all-round assistance to the impoverished population.

We know that the US carrier group, led by the aircraft carrier Harry Truman and the escort of the ships, began to advance into the Persian Gulf, with an approximate date of arrival in early May. This is the established practice of the US Navy in the region.

We closely monitor the situation that is developing around Syria and throughout the region, and we will inform you about its changes.

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