Russia police arrest Syria regime looters in ravaged Yarmouk
Russian military police arrested a group of Syrian regime soldiers for looting homes in the ravaged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk, it said.
Russia's Hmeimim military base made the announcement in an online statement on Saturday, following widespread reports of regime soldiers pillaging civilian homes in the Damascus suburb, which was recently recaptured from the Islamic State group.
"Russian military police units arrested members of the Syrian regime forces who were stealing in southern Damascus," the Arabic-language statement said.
"Russian forces do not allow violations in the areas that have been liberated with our participation," the statement added.
Local activist-run media outlets have published video footage and images of three men dressed in military clothing being detained in Yarmouk.
The Syrian Defence Ministry said in a statement on Sunday the arrested men were not members of the Syrian army.
"The people in the photos are not soldiers from the military establishment and have no affiliation to it whatsoever," it said.
Last week, a Syrian cleric loyal to the regime condemned government troops and allied militias for the "flagrant looting" of homes in Yarmouk.
Syrian regime and allied forces retook the Yarmouk area in southern Damascus, giving President Bashar al-Assad full control of the capital and its surroundings for the first time since 2012.
The offensive for Yarmouk has left the neighbourhood, once home to about 200,000 Palestinian refugees, catastrophically damaged.
Yarmouk has been so heavily battered by fighting that it was hard to picture daily life restarting there, the United Nations' Palestine refugee agency has said.
Fighting over the years had whittled down Yarmouk's population to just hundreds by the time
Syria's army began its assault last month.
Yarmouk was, for decades, a bustling district where both Palestinians and Syrians lived.
It was placed under crippling siege a year after the uprising began in 2011.