Rus­sia sets brief cease­fire for Aleppo as strikes kill 36

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

BEIRUT (AP): USSIAN AND SYR­IAN forces will halt hos­til­i­ties for eight hours in the eastern dis­tricts of Aleppo, Rus­sia’s mil­i­tary an­nounced yes­ter­day, a day on which op­po­si­tion ac­tivists said their air strikes killed at least 36 peo­ple, in­clud­ing sev­eral chil­dren, in and around the di­vided city.

The two mil­i­taries will ob­serve a “hu­man­i­tar­ian pause” between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Oc­to­ber 20 to al­low civil­ians and mil­i­tants safe pas­sage out of the city, Lt Gen Sergei Rud­skoi of Rus­sia’s gen­eral staff said in Mos­cow. Mil­i­tants, the wounded and sick would be al­lowed to evac­u­ate to the neigh­bour­ing rebel-held prov­ince of Idlib.

UN hu­man­i­tar­ian of­fi­cials have pleaded with com­bat­ants to ob­serve weekly 48-hour cease­fires to al­low hu­man­i­tar­ian re­lief into the city’s be­sieged eastern dis­tricts, but Rus­sian and Syr­ian forces have only es­ca­lated their aerial and ground as­sault on the rebel-held ar­eas in re­cent weeks. The air strikes

Rhave claimed hun­dreds of lives, wounded many, flat­tened apart­ment build­ings and laid waste to the al­ready crip­pled med­i­cal sec­tor.

But Rus­sian and Syr­ian lead­ers are now cap­i­tal­iz­ing on a pro­posal made by the UN’s en­voy ear­lier this month to al­low alQaeda-linked mil­i­tants to leave in ex­change for peace and lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion for the eastern dis­tricts.

Rebels in the east, along with many res­i­dents, spurned the propo­si­tion, cit­ing their dis­trust of the gov­ern­ment side. And Rus­sia ve­toed a UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion man­dat­ing an im­me­di­ate cease­fire.

Yes­ter­day’s an­nounce­ment did not in­clude any prom­ises of an ex­tended cease­fire or lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion. It fol­lowed a bloody day of air strikes on rebel-held dis­tricts in and around Aleppo.

At least 23 peo­ple were killed in air strike that also wounded dozens in the vil­lage of Owei­jel, just west of Aleppo, ac­cord­ing to the Bri­tain-based Syr­ian In this photo re­leased early Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 17, 2016, and pro­vided by the Syr­ian civil de­fence group known as the White Hel­mets, res­cue work­ers try­ing to re­move a boy stuck in the de­bris of a build­ing in the neigh­bour­hood of Qaterji in rebel-held east Aleppo fol­low­ing an air strike in Aleppo, Syria. Syr­ian ac­tivists are re­port­ing that air strikes on a re­bel­held, eastern neigh­bor­hood in the city of Aleppo have killed at least 13 peo­ple, in­clud­ing chil­dren. The Bri­tain-based Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights says the airstrikes hit the Mar­jeh neigh­bour­hood.

Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights. An­other mon­i­tor­ing group, the Lo­cal Co­or­di­na­tion Com­mit­tees, said the air raid was car­ried out

by Rus­sian war­planes and put the death toll at 30.

A MA­JOR OP­ER­A­TION

More than a dozen peo­ple were also killed in the Mar­jeh neigh­bour­hood in eastern Aleppo. The Aleppo Me­dia Cen­ter, an ac­tivist col­lec­tive, said those killed in­cluded 11 peo­ple with the same fam­ily name of Qabs rang­ing from a month-and-a-half-old baby girl to a 25-year-old man.

The Ob­ser­va­tory said at least 50 civil­ians, in­clud­ing 18 chil­dren, were killed in air strikes on the

eastern part of the city in the 24 hours be­fore the Rus­sian an­nounce­ment.

Yes­ter­day’s air strikes co­in­cided with the launch in neigh­bour­ing Iraq of a ma­jor op­er­a­tion by Iraqi and Kur­dish forces, backed by the US-led coali­tion, to re­take the north­ern city of Mo­sul from the Is­lamic State group. There have been con­cerns the gov­ern­ment in Da­m­as­cus could use the tim­ing of the Mo­sul of­fen­sive to press its on­slaught in Aleppo while world at­ten­tion is di­verted to de­vel­op­ments in Iraq.

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