On September 20, Nikolai Burtsev, a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, revealed that Russia is working closely with the U.S. to evacuate refugees from the al-Rukban camp, south of the area of al-Tanaf, to government-held areas.
“The US side suggests settling the Rukban problem through evacuating the refugees to the territories controlled by the government of the Syrian Arab Republic. The details of a possible operation have not been discussed so far. We will continue closely working with the Americans to solve this issue,” the Russian news agency TASS quoted Burtsev as saying during a meeting of the Russian-Syrian Joint Commission for Refugee Repatriation.
The Russian diplomat also said that the Damascus government will allow a new humanitarian aid convoy of the U.N. to enter the al-Rukban camp soon. The convoy will be escorted by Russian forces.
Last week, Syrian opposition sources revealed that the Damascus government and the US-backed al-Qaryatayn Martyrs Brigade have reached an evacuation agreement, under which the group’s fighters and around 5,000 civilians will be allowed to withdraw from the Rukban camp to the Euphrates Shield-held area in northern Aleppo.
A source in the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), who is currently stationed around the 55km de-escalation zone around al-Tanaf, told SouthFront that the first batch of militants and civilians may leave the al-Rukban camp within the next 24hours.
Russia and the Damascus government are expected to take more steps to speed up the return of refugees in the upcoming few months. According to TASS, Jordan is also cooperating on the matter and it will soon reopen its border with Syria to facilitate the Russian-Syrian efforts.