30 Mar 2018 14:14

Almost 5,000 militants leave Syria's Harasta on March 22-23 - Russian Defense Ministry

MOSCOW. March 30 (Interfax-AVN) - About 5,000 militants of Ahrar ash-Sham have withdrawn from the town of Harasta al-Basal in the past 24 hours as the result of an agreement with their leaders, the Chief of the Russian Defense Ministry's Main Operational Directorate, Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, said at a press briefing on Friday.

"A total of 1,872 militants and 3,107 members of their families were relocated to the Idlib de-escalation area via a special humanitarian passage in the vicinity of the police hospital on March 22 and 23," Rudskoi said.

"As many as 4,979 people exited Harasta al-Basal," he said.

The Syrian police and officers of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria ensured the security of the convoy. The road was checked for mines and cleared of debris, Rudskoi said.

The center provided 427 tonnes of food, field kitchens, over 50,000 liters of bottled water, 7,200 mattresses and sets of bed linen, and over 108,000 food care packages.

"The work is being done in collaboration with the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. This is a tangible contribution of Russia to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2401. The humanitarian operation is continuing," Rudskoi said.