Rus­sia an­nounces truce as EU warns of war crimes

The Myanmar Times - - World -

RUS­SIA has an­nounced an eight-hour “hu­man­i­tar­ian” cease­fire in Aleppo later this week, as the EU warned that the Syr­ian regime’s Moscow-backed as­sault on the city could amount to a war crime.

The UN and Euro­pean Union wel­comed the an­nounce­ment, but said to­mor­row’s planned pause in fight­ing needed to be longer to al­low the de­liv­ery of hu­man­i­tar­ian aid.

Mean­while, dozens of civil­ians in­clud­ing 12 mem­bers of the same fam­ily were killed in heavy bom­bard­ment of rebel-held east­ern sec­tors of the em­bat­tled city, a mon­i­tor­ing group said.

“We have taken a de­ci­sion not to waste time and to in­tro­duce ‘hu­man­i­tar­ian pauses’, mainly for the free pas­sage of civil­ians, evac­u­a­tion of the sick and wounded, and with­drawal of fight­ers,” se­nior Rus­sian mil­i­tary of­fi­cer Sergei Rud­skoi said in Moscow.

“Dur­ing this pe­riod the Rus­sian air force and Syr­ian govern­ment troops will halt air strikes and fir­ing from any other types of weapons.”

Rus­sia’s am­bas­sador to the UN Vi­taly Churkin also an­nounced that Saudi Ara­bia, Qatar and Turkey had agreed to par­tic­i­pate in talks with the US and Rus­sia to try to sep­a­rate mod­er­ate and ex­trem­ist op­po­si­tion in Aleppo and boost hopes of pro­long­ing the truce.

The an­nounce­ments came as EU foreign min­is­ters con­demned the fe­ro­cious air war waged on Aleppo over the past three weeks.

“Since the be­gin­ning of the of­fen­sive by the regime and its al­lies, no­tably Rus­sia, the in­ten­sity and scale of the aerial bom­bard­ment of east­ern Aleppo is clearly dis­pro­por­tion­ate,” a state­ment said.

“The de­lib­er­ate tar­get­ing of hospi­tals, med­i­cal per­son­nel, schools and es­sen­tial in­fra­struc­ture, as well as the use of bar­rel bombs, clus­ter bombs, and chem­i­cal weapons, con­sti­tute a cat­a­strophic es­ca­la­tion of the con­flict ... and may amount to war crimes.”

The EU min­is­ters said they would press ahead with ex­tend­ing sanc­tions against Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar alAs­sad’s regime, but stopped short of threat­en­ing mea­sures against Rus­sia.

Photo: EPA

Sergei Rud­skoy says hu­man­i­tar­ian pauses will be in­tro­duced.

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