Militants in Eastern Ghouta killed at least nine civilians on Monday during protests against being held hostage in the city, according to Valery Gerasimov, head of Russia’s general staff.
“Terrorists severely suppress any protest actions from the population of Eastern Ghouta, who are forbidden to leave the area under threat of death,” the top Russian military officer said. Eastern Ghouta is a militant-held suburb near the Syrian capital of Damascus.
While dispersing a rally in the Hammuria area of Eastern Ghouta, militants shot dead four people and injured 10 more, the official said. Five more were killed and 12 injured in the Kafr Batna area, Gerasimov said, citing data from the Russian MoD.
Illegal armed groups also continue the “systematic shelling” of residential areas in the enclave. As a result, at least 15 civilians were killed and another 133 were injured in the past month. “Terrorists and so-called moderate opposition that joined them, forcibly hold civilians, using them as human shields,” the general told reporters.
On Saturday, Syrian media reported that a woman and three children were killed as militants opened fire on civilians to prevent them from leaving the besieged area through humanitarian corridors. Last week, the Russian military confirmed that militants attacked a convoy of civilians trying to exit Ghouta, and shelled the area where their relatives and journalists had been waiting. According to the Russian MoD’s data from Sunday, the militants imposed a curfew and publicly punished civilians for violations in an apparent attempt to prevent them from fleeing the war-ravaged Damascus suburb.
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On Sunday night, a first group of over 50 civilians finally managed to flee the besieged territory. The escapees told reporters that they lived in “harsh conditions” and “in fear under the militants.” “We haven’t seen anything that was sent to us. No money, no dollars, they took everything away. They completely robbed us,” one woman lamented.
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