Aleppo bombing pause holds into second day
A pause in Russian and Syrian strikes on Aleppo was holding for a second day yesterday, ahead of a brief ceasefire aimed at allowing civilians and rebels to quit the devastated city. Moscow announced it would extend an eight-hour truce planned for Thursday to 11 hours and said Syrian and Russian warplanes were giving Aleppo a wide berth. French President Francois Hollande said he would work with Germany to persuade Russia to adopt a long-lasting truce around Syria’s second city. But Russia’s ceasefire plan was met with skepticism and the United Nations said it would be insufficient to allow humanitarian aid to reach encircled Aleppo inhabitants.
Moscow is backing President Bashar AlAssad’s regime in its war with a wide range of rebel groups, including with air strikes in the divided northern city. Under growing international pressure over the devastation and civilian deaths caused by strikes, Moscow announced early Tuesday that Russian and Syrian warplanes would stop bombing rebel-held parts of the city to pave the way for a “humanitarian pause”.
That window, starting at 0500 GMT on Thursday, was initially meant to last eight hours and is expected to see all fighting stop to allow civilians and rebels to exit opposition-held districts via six corridors. Senior Russian military official Sergei Rudskoi said yesterday that the ceasefire had been extended “by three hours until 7:00 pm (1600 GMT)”. He also said Russian and Syrian planes were keeping 10 kilometers from Aleppo. An estimated 250,000 people live in Aleppo’s eastern districts and have been under near-continuous government siege since July.
AFP’s correspondent in east Aleppo said yesterday that although clashes between rebels and pro-government forces involving heavy artillery continued in several neighborhoods, the pause in air strikes extended into late afternoon. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britainbased monitoring group, said pro-regime fighters were pressing their ground assault in the Old City as they vied to shift the front line.
BERLIN: An activist wearing a mask depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin knees inmid colour smeared teddy bears during a protest on October 19, 2016 in front of the chancellery in Berlin ahead of a meeting of leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.