‘Humanitarian pause’ begins in Aleppo but clashes erupt
ALEPPO: A “humanitarian pause” took effect yesterday in the Syrian army’s Russian-backed assault on rebel-held areas of Aleppo but it was quickly tested by fighting on a corridor opened for civilians to flee.
The army said it was opening eight corridors to provide safe passage for those leaving but the unilateral ceasefire suffered an early blow when clashes broke out at one of them, an AFP correspondent said.
Artillery exchanges erupted around the crossing point on the front line in the city centre, the photographer said. The state SANA news agency blamed “terrorist groups”.
Over 250,000 civilians have been trapped in the rebel-held east of the city under near-continuous siege since midJuly and under devastating bombardment by Russian and Syrian government aircraft which only halted on Tuesday.
Russia has said the pause in a Syrian army offensive launched on Sept 22 will continue until at least 1600GMT and could be extended. The Syrian army has said it will last three days.
Syrian and Russian warplanes already halted strikes on rebel districts from 0700GMT on Tuesday.
The Syrian army has said it is opening eight corridors for civilians to leave, two of which can also be used by rebel fighters provided they leave behind their weapons.
Residents interviewed said they were eager to leave but wanted more reassurance they would be safe.
“Even though I need to leave because of the deteriorating living conditions caused by the siege and the lack of food or work, I don’t want to risk my life or my family’s by being among the first to leave,” said Mohammed Shayah, an unemployed father of four.
The UN has said the duration of the pause is not long enough to provide relief supplies. Its envoy, Staffan de Mistura, said the truce would be long enough to safely evacuate just 200 wounded.
Meanwhile in northern Syria, Turkish warplanes have carried out deadly strikes on US-backed militias, including Syrian Kurdish fighters, a monitor said. – AFP