Syrian regime forces have besieged the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region since 2013, restricting access to food and medicines for some 400,000 residents.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, December 21, 2017.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, December 21, 2017. (Reuters)

Turkey is working with Russia to evacuate around 500 people from the besieged Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.

"There are around 500 people, including 170 children and women who need urgent humanitarian aid," Erdogan said ahead of his departure on an official visit to Sudan.

He said he had discussed the issue with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Ankara aimed to bring people in need of assistance to Turkey to provide treatment and care.

The Russian and Turkish chiefs of staff would discuss the steps to be taken in operations that would also involve the Turkish Red Cresent and Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Organisation (AFAD), Erdogan said.

In November, the UN humanitarian adviser for Syria called the situation in Eastern Ghouta a humanitarian emergency.

Regime forces have besieged the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region since 2013, restricting access to food and medicines for some 400,000 residents.

It is one of four "de-escalation" zones agreed in May in a bid to reduce fighting in some parts of the war-ravaged country, but the regime has ramped up bombing since mid-November.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies