Children in the Rukban camp for displaced Syrians near the Jordanian border (File)
Russia has again used the Rukban camp crisis — where about 50,000 displaced Syrians are cut off by the Assad regime and Jordan — to press for US withdrawal from Syria.
The displaced fled Islamic State attacks on their homes from 2015, reaching the barren area in southeast Syria near the Jordanian border. In June 2016, Jordan closed the crossing after an ISIS suicide bombing.
Since January, the Assad regime has allowed one UN aid delivery to Rukban. This autumn it blocked the main route into the camp, cutting the flow of food and goods from Bedouin traders.
The UN has warned that thousands of people, including many children, are at risk from shortages of food and medicine.
In recent months, Russia has used the crisis as a lever for the US military’s departure from Syria, including the closure of its al-Tanf base near the Jordanian and Iraqi borders. Rukban lies within a 55-km (34-mile) exclusion zone set up by the Americans to deter any attacks by pro-Assad forces.
Talks in November between Russia, Jordan, and the US about the movement of people from Rukban had no outcome.
The entire responsibility for the deplorable situation in the camp rests with the United States which illegally occupies this region of the United Nations member state. We insist that as long as the camp is operating the American side must ensure normal living conditions for people staying at the Rubkan camp.
We call on the United States to immediately withdraw its troops from the area around al-Tanf and cede control over this territory to the Syrian government, which will take care of its citizens.
Moscow also repeated its claims that the US is financing “extremists”, a likely reference to Maghawir al-Thawra fighters trained and equipped for the anti-ISIS campaign.
The Foreign Ministry said the UN is considering another aid convoy to Rukban in mid-December. It did not refer to past obstacles put up by the Assad regime to the deliveries.