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Russian satellites uncover cemetery with 300 fresh graves near Syria's Rukban refugee camp

Russian satellites' images have uncovered a cemetery with 300 fresh graves near the Rukban refugee camp in Syria, Russia's Defense Ministry told journalists on Tuesday.

"A fresh cemetery with 300 fresh graves has been uncovered on the southern side immediately outside the camp's fence," the ministry said.

According to the ministry, the cemetery and other proof of the refugees' stay in the camp were registered by the satellite images made several days ago.

The satellite data suggest that most structures in the Rukban camp are makeshift settlements and unfit for the living of people in the winter period and a part of refugees simply had to live under open shelters. Anti-sanitary conditions reign in the camp: garbage dumps are located close to housing while food storage and meal facilities are absent. Foodstuffs and other products are exchanged at makeshift mini-markets that are controlled by militants.

The Rukban camp is surrounded by a mound and a fence, beyond which militant groupings controlled by the United States do not let anyone out, the ministry said.

"Actually, the Rukban camp has long lost its status and turned into a reservation area where hostages are held forcibly," Russia's Defense Ministry pointed out.

The command of the US forces in the al-Tanf area where the Rukban camp is located prevents refugees from exiting the camp while militants are forcibly holding them inside, demanding large sums of money in US dollars to let them out. At the same time, the UN data show that more than 35,000 Syrians want to return to the territory controlled by the Syrian government, including 28,000 to the province of Homs, 2,800 to the province of Deir ez-Zor, 1,600 to the provinces of Rif Damashq and Hama and 1,200 to the province of Aleppo, Russia's Defense Ministry said.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 05Mar19]

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