On March 7, Head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Warring Parties in Syria Major General Yuri Yevtushenko offered militants and a safe way out of the East Ghouta pocket in an official statement.
According to Maj. Gen. Yevtushenko, the Russian Reconciliation Center is even ready to provide the vehicles needed for the evacuation, and to fully secure the road.
“The Russian Reconciliation Centre guarantees the immunity of all rebel fighters who take the decision to leave Eastern Ghouta with personal weapons and together with their families,” said the Maj. Gen. Yevtushenko, according to the Russian RT TV.
Militants in the city of Aleppo agreed on a similar evacuation plan on December 15, 2016. This allowed them to withdraw towards Idlib governorate. However, they accepted the plan after they had lost more than 90% of their area inside the city.
In his official statement, Maj. Gen. Yevtushenko also said that militants in East Ghouta are still banning civilians there from leaving the pocket and using them as human shields.
“The militants act arbitrarily against civilians in Eastern Ghouta up to public executions, prohibiting them to leave the area under the threat of death. They seize food, medicines, drinking water and private vehicles from people. Senior citizens, women and children are forcibly held hostage and used as a human shield,” Yevtushenko said, according to the Russian state-run news agency TASS.
Militants even hindered a plan of the UN and the Russian Reconciliation Center to evacuate more than thousand sick and wounded civilians, according to Maj. Gen. Yevtushenko. Only thirteen wounded civilians including five children were able to leave the pocket eventually.
The militants in the East Ghouta pocket will not likely accept any peaceful solution before losing most of their areas, just like in Aleppo. However, with the rapid advance of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), this could happen soon.