Russian and Syrian forces suspend Aleppo airstrikes ahead of ceasefire

Published October 19th, 2016 - 04:00 GMT
Members of the Syrian Civil Defence, known as the White Helmets, search for victims amid the rubble of a destroyed building following reported air strikes in the rebel-held Qatarji neighbourhood of the northern city of Aleppo, on October 17, 2016. (AFP/Karam al-Masri)
Members of the Syrian Civil Defence, known as the White Helmets, search for victims amid the rubble of a destroyed building following reported air strikes in the rebel-held Qatarji neighbourhood of the northern city of Aleppo, on October 17, 2016. (AFP/Karam al-Masri)

Russia and Syria have suspended air strikes on Aleppo, two days ahead of a planned eight-hour humanitarian pause to allow aid through to the city.

Russia’s Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, said the halt in bombing was designed to allow rebels and civilians to leave Aleppo.

He said militants were expected to withdraw from the city with their weapons via two designated corridors.

“We are making an appeal to the leaders of the countries who can use their influence over the armed groups from eastern Aleppo to convince their commanders to stop military action and leave the city.”

Moscow has come under fire from Western leaders for its assaults on the rebel-held east of the city.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it is hoped the break, which he called a “goodwill gesture” will “be used finally for separating the groups supported, equipped and armed by the US, some European countries and regional countries, from groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and others like them.”

The United Nations has welcomed Thursday’s planned humanitarian pause, but was unhappy with its length, saying at least 12 hours are needed to safely move people from the besieged east of Aleppo and more time still could be needed to get aid in.


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