Some 700 civilians from Syria's Eastern Ghouta, who were supposed to come to Turkey, have been sent to southern Damascus, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Wednesday, when asked to comment on Russian President Vladimir Putin's latest statement on the evacuation of civilians from the area.
According to Kalin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the evacuation of civilians from Eastern Ghouta about a month ago.
"Our first demand was to bring them to Turkey, but we were informed that they were taken to the south. This group had set off nearly a week ago after the demand was first made by our president. We didn't share this specifically since they did not come to Turkey. Because we expected that they would come to Turkey. But Mr. Putin has just announced it [that they were in Damascus]," Kalin said.
The official noted that issue was raised once again some 10 days ago, adding that Turkey was ready to take in civilians who needed medical treatment.
The statement comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that terrorists in Eastern Ghouta had shelled Damascus around 50-80 times a day, adding that Russia would seek to establish a political dialogue in Syria.
The situation in Eastern Ghouta escalated after Syrian government forces launched an operation on February 18 dubbed "Damascus Steel," in a bid to clear the region of militants. According to the Russian military, the terrorist groups in the region are intentionally struggling to escalate the situation in East Ghouta, preventing civilians from leaving the area and provoking retaliatory fights against the Syrian government.