Russia, Syria urge US to let refugees leave camp

BEIRUT (AP) — Russia and Syria have urged the U.S. to allow tens of thousands of people to leave a refugee camp in southern Syria.

In a joint statement Wednesday, the Russian and Syrian refugee coordination centers accused the U.S. of keeping 40,000 people in the Rukban camp against their will.

They pointed to poor conditions in the camp near the border with Jordan and said that U.S.-affiliated rebels have effectively kept people there hostage.

The statement rejected the U.S. argument that Syria can’t provide safe accommodation to residents of the camp, arguing that the Syrian government has built facilities in several provinces to accommodate people from Rukban. It emphasized that Damascus has guaranteed their full security.

Russian and Syrian officials urged the U.N. to intervene and help evacuate the camp.