Sunday 11 December 2016

Aleppo airstrikes are halted 'to let civilians leave'

Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow

Published 19/10/2016 | 02:30

Rescue workers trying to remove a boy stuck in the debris of a building in the neighborhood of Qaterji in rebel-held east Aleppo following an airstrike in Aleppo, Syria
Rescue workers trying to remove a boy stuck in the debris of a building in the neighborhood of Qaterji in rebel-held east Aleppo following an airstrike in Aleppo, Syria

Russian and Syrian war planes halted their airstrikes on Syria's besieged city of Aleppo yesterday in preparation for a temporary pause in the military push that Moscow has announced for later in the week.

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According to Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, the halt in the strikes should help pave the way for militants to leave the eastern rebel-held parts of the contested city.

On Monday, Moscow 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 halt any offensive actions. Syrian rebels, including al-Qa'ida militants, as well as the wounded and the sick will be allowed to leave to the neighbouring rebel-held province of Idlib.

Mr Shoigu said: "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."

The United Nations said Russia has communicated plans for two eight-hour cease-fires in rebel-held parts of Aleppo over "consecutive days" this week.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, would not say if the strikes would resume after the pause, saying that depended on whether the rebels can be persuaded to cut ties with militants.

Irish Independent

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