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Militants Used Aleppo Truce to Receive Aid, Prepare New Offensives - Moscow

© REUTERS / Abdalrhman IsmailSmoke rises from a militant held neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria November 17, 2016
Smoke rises from a militant held neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria November 17, 2016 - Sputnik International
Militants used humanitarian pauses in Aleppo to receive additional aid and prepare new offensives, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told Sputnik on Monday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The United Nations has failed to take full advantage of the humanitarian pauses in Syria, Gatilov added, stressing that not a single civilian had been evacuated out of the besieged areas of eastern Aleppo despite UN pledges to take some 200 people out of the combat zone.

"So, unfortunately, the United Nations failed with this task. Meanwhile, the humanitarian pauses were used by the militant opposition forces to receive additional financial aid and help, and this humanitarian pause was de-facto used by them to prepare new military operations," the deputy minister said.

A man walks past damaged buildings in the rebel held besieged al-Sukkari neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria October 19, 2016. - Sputnik International
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In recent months, the situation in Aleppo has deteriorated. Terrorists do not allow residents to take advantage of recent pauses in fighting to leave the danger zone through the humanitarian corridors. Instead, they continue to use the humanitarian pause to prepare for new military operations.

Russia may consider the introduction of new humanitarian pauses in Syria's embattled city of Aleppo only after receiving guarantees that they will not be used by terrorists and radical opposition forces to recuperate and prepare new attacks, he said.

"If we are talking seriously about humanitarian pauses, which we are not against in principle, we must first have solid guarantees that they will be used to evacuate civilians from besieged districts of eastern Aleppo… It has not been the case so far," Gatilov told Sputnik.

"At present, we see that terrorists often use civilians as 'a human shield' preventing civilians from leaving the areas [under their control]…in order to later accuse the Syrian army and Russia of striking civilian facilities, hospitals, civilians," the diplomat added.

The pressure put on Damascus and Moscow through the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly to make certain decisions in the context of the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo is unacceptable, Gatilov told Sputnik.

"Another thing that we are not satisfied with in the context of the humanitarian crisis and the humanitarian situation in the east of Aleppo, are the attempts to involve the Security Council and the UN General Assembly, clearly aimed at politicizing the issue and exerting additional pressure on Syria and Russia. Unfortunately, some of our partners hold a line against which we, of course, object," he said.

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Senior Adviser to UN Special Envoy for Syria Jan Egeland has failed in using humanitarian pauses in Aleppo to evacuate civilians, Gatilov told Sputnik.

"Speaking in plain terms, Egeland failed in dealing with the objectives he has been tasked with," Gatilov said.

Russia hopes UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura will convene a new round of Syrian peace talks as soon as possible, Gatilov said. He said de Mistura is not doing it yet "citing certain circumstances."

"He believes it is necessary to achieve a stable regime of ceasefire for the successful start of intra-Syrian dialogue. From his viewpoint, it is necessary to improve the humanitarian situation before following the political track. But we believe all these important issues should not be a precondition for the start of the negotiating process," Gatilov said.

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