Aleppo bomb­ing pause holds into sec­ond day

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

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.

— AFP

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.

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