09:53 GMT +320 March 2019
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    Smoke rises from the besieged Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria

    Some Syrian Armed Groups Try to Discuss Separation From Terrorists With Damascus

    © REUTERS / Bassam Khabieh
    Middle East
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Some illegal armed groups in Syria are trying to establish contacts with the Syrian government in order to discuss their possible separation from the Jabhat Fatah al Sham terror group*, Maj. Gen. Yury Yevtushenko, the head of the Russian Defense Ministry's Center for Syrian reconciliation, said on Friday.

    "Some representatives of illegal armed groups stepped up attempts to establish contacts with the Syrian government forces and the Russian center for Syrian reconciliation in order to discuss the issue of separation from the banned terrorist organization Jabhat al-Nusra [Jabhat Fatah al Sham]," Yevtushenko said.

    Yevtushenko also reported that the first group of 13 militants left the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta having used the recently opened humanitarian corridor of Muhayam Wafedeen.

    "As a result of long negotiations, conducted by officers of the Center for Syrian reconciliation, an agreement on withdrawal of the first group of militants from the Eastern Ghouta de-escalation zone has been reached. A total of 13 Islamists left the area," Yevtushenko said, adding that the militants will head to Idlib.

    The militants are said to have left Eastern Ghouta without weapons, no provocations were staged.

    "The negotiating process on withdrawal of other militants with participation of the Syrian government will be continued," Yevtushenko added.

    Meanwhile, militants continue to shell residents who are trying to leave the area of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, including during "humanitarian breaks," preventing civilians from leaving the area, the head of the Russian Defense Ministry's Center for Syrian reconciliation said.

    "The joint coordinating center has noted a decrease in the number of ceasefire violations over the past few days, but the situation in Eastern Ghouta remains complicated… Efforts are being made to normalize the situation in the area of ​​the humanitarian corridor with the checkpoint at Muhayam Wafedeen, but the militants continue to fire at civilians attempting to leave Eastern Ghouta, including during humanitarian breaks. During the past day, none of the civilians could leave the enclave," he said.

    A temporary corridor in the direction of Jisrein-Mlekha continues to operate for the second day, Yevtushenko said.

    The necessary infrastructure elements have been deployed, first-aid brigades are on duty, a medical center, a hot food distribution point and transport for transporting civilians to safe areas are ready to operate, he added.

    *Banned in Russia


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