Syrians walk down a destroyed street in Arbin in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta on February 25, 2018. (AFP Photo)
DAMASCUS, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- The rebels in Syria's Eastern Ghouta fired five mortar shells on a safe corridor prepared for the evacuation of civilians under a Russian-proposed humanitarian pause on Tuesday, the state-run TV reported.
The rebels fired the mortar shells on the Wafidin crossing, the only corridor for civilians to evacuate the rebel-held areas in Eastern Ghouta toward government-controlled parts in Damascus.
The firing comes to thwart the evacuation of civilians, said the TV. It added that five women were wounded when the mortars slammed areas around the crossing.
Meanwhile, activists inside Ghouta said there are no signs of any preparations for the evacuation of civilians from Eastern Ghouta.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the rebels firing on the crossing is preventing the civilians from leaving.
The Russian-proposed humanitarian pause entered into effect at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) on Tuesday and is expected to continue until 2 p.m. in the conflict-torn area.
Such humanitarian pause, however, will take place every day within the same period of time to allow evacuation of civilians from the rebel-held zone.
Despite the failure of civilians evacuation so far, relative calm prevailed in Damascus after the humanitarian pause went into force.
Local media said the crossing has been prepared with ambulances and buses to transport the civilians who will leave into safe places.
It's not yet clear if the rebels will allow the civilians to leave Eastern Ghouta, as Muhammad Alloush, the political chief of Islam Army, said a day earlier that only the wounded will leave, not the regular civilians.
The humanitarian pause comes just days after the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2401, which requires all parties in Syria to immediately cease clashes and provide a sustained humanitarian break for at least 400 days.
But terror-designated groups such as the Islamic State (IS) and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front are excluded from the resolution, as the battles against them continue.
The UN organizations have already sounded the alarm about the situation in Eastern Ghouta, where 400,000 people are believed to be trapped in the sprawling area east of Damascus.
The military showdown started to intensify between the Syrian army and rebels 10 days ago, with mortar shells from rebels hitting Damascus while the Syrian forces continued their massive bombardment against rebel positions in the area.