‘Hu­man­i­tar­ian pause’ be­gins in Aleppo but clashes erupt

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

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

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