Turkey and Russia are working to evacuate 500 people from the militant-held region of Eastern Ghouta, located near the Syrian capital, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“There are around 500 people, including 170 children and women who need urgent humanitarian aid,” Erdogan said ahead of his official visit to Sudan.
The Turkish president said he had discussed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to Erdogan, Turkey seeks to bring people in need of assistance to Turkey to provide treatment and care.
Erdogan revealed that the Russian and Turkish chiefs of staff would discuss the steps to be taken in operations. These actions would involve the Turkish Red Crescent and Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Organisation (AFAD).
A notable part of Eastern Ghouta is controlled by various militant groups, most notably Jaish al-Islam, the Al-Rahman Corps, Ahrar al-Sham and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda). These militant groups actively use civilians as human shield to prevent Syrian Army advances in this urban area.