Airstrikes on hold ahead of exodus
Russian and Syrian warplanes have halted their airstrikes on Syria’s besieged city of Aleppo in preparation for a temporary pause in the military push that Moscow has announced for later in the week, the Russian defence minister said. According to Sergei Shoigu, the halt in the strikes should help pave way for militants to leave the eastern rebel-held parts of the contested city. Both Russian and Syrian air raids on Aleppo were suspended at 10am yesterday, Shoigu said. He described the suspension as a precursor for the opening of humanitarian corridors. Moscow on Monday announced a “humanitarian pause” between 8am and 4pm tomorrow to allow civilians and militants safe passage out of the city. At that time, Russian and Syrian militaries will desist from any offensive actions. Syrian rebels, including Al Qaeda militants, as well as the wounded and the sick, will be allowed to leave to the neighbouring rebel-held province of Idlib. “The early halting of airstrikes is necessary to declare a ‘humanitarian pause’,” Shoigu said in a televised statement. “It will ... guarantee a safe exit of civilians through six corridors and prepare for the evacuation of the ill and the wounded from the eastern part of Aleppo.” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the halt in the airstrikes was a goodwill gesture to pave the way for the pause. “The Russian military is offering yet another chance, and we hope that our partners will allow us all to take advantage of that,” Peskov said.
POUNDED: A family walks through the rubble