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The New Arab Staff

31 Russian children evacuated from Syria

Moscow has evacuated a total of over 220 Russian children from Iraq and Syria [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 November, 2020

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Children aged two to 16 were flown to Moscow from Syria on Friday as part of Russian efforts to evacuate its minor nationals from the war-torn country.
Moscow has evacuated 31 Russian children from Syria in the fourth relocation of its kind, Russian News Agency TASS reported.

The plane carrying the Russian minors landed at Chkalovsky airfield in Moscow on Friday, TASS reported citing the press service of the children's rights commissioner, Anna Kuznetsova.

"A plane of the Russian Aerospace Forces evacuating 31 children from Syria has landed at Chkalovsky airfield," Kuznetsova was quoted as saying.

The children – aged between two and 16 – will undergo examinations and will be placed in quarantine before being handed over to relatives in several Russian regions, the commissioner, who was also on the arriving plane, said. 

Russia did not disclose the reason for its most recent evacuation.

This is the fourth Russian relocation of children from war-torn Syria reported by the Russian agency. The previous repatriations included children from the overcrowded Al-Hol camp, which also hosts family members and supporters of the Islamic State terror group.

Last month, aid groups reiterated safety concerns about the displaced people still languishing in the Al-Hol camp, where Kurdish authorities reported the first coronavirus case among residents in late August.

The captured IS militants, whose families live in camps, are held in prisons by Kurdish authorities, who have recently announced the beginning of their trials.

Read also: Syria Kurds transfer foreign women, children from overcrowded and 'inhumane' Al-Hol camp

Russia launched efforts to relocate Russian children from Iraq and Syria in the summer of 2017 and has since reportedly returned over 220 children – over 120 from Iraq, and over 100 from Syria. 

Russian children are being repatriated from zones of armed conflicts under the instruction of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to TASS.

Syria's war, which broke out after the brutal suppression of anti-government protests in 2011, has killed more than 380,000 people.

Moscow's military intervention in 2015 helped turn the tide of the war, with Russian air power allowing Syrian regime forces to win back large parts of the country from rebels and jihadists.

Russia already has a naval base in Tartous.

The conflict has ravaged the Syrian economy and pushed millions to flee their homes.

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