According to the Russian military, various militants are keeping people in the camp by force, while the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has previously noted that terrorists and smugglers in the area are using innocent people as human shields.
“We call on the American command and leaders of illegal militant groups in the al-Tanf zone to at least stop forcibly keeping women and children most affected by cold, illness and malnutrition in the camp. All of them will be given necessary assistance”, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said Friday.
According to him, Russia and Syria will establish a temporary housing area for refugees from the camp.
“To save the refugees of the Rukban camp, the Russian centre for Syrian reconciliation, jointly with Syria’s government, from February 19, 2019… will deploy temporary accommodation centres equipped with warm housing and provided with hot meals, other essentials and medical personnel… All refugees will be provided with motor transport for unimpeded and safe travel to their places of residence in the territory controlled by the Syrian government”, he said.
The Rukban refugee camp is located near the Syrian-Jordan border in the zone of responsibility of the US al-Tanf base. Russia has accused the US base of providing a safe haven for terrorists, who have later launched attacks on the positions of the Syrian army.
According to various estimates, there are at least 50,000 people inside the 55-kilometre security zone occupied by the United States.