Monday 22 January 2018

Aleppo residents get respite from shelling in 48-hour 'regime of calm'

A boy rides a bicycle near damaged buildings in the rebel held area of Old Aleppo. Photo: Reuters
A boy rides a bicycle near damaged buildings in the rebel held area of Old Aleppo. Photo: Reuters
A general view shows a damaged street with sandbags used as barriers in Aleppo's Saif al-Dawla district. Photo: Reuters
A boy carries his belongings at a site hit by what activists said was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's al-Fardous district. Photo: Reuters
Rebel fighters walk on the al-Breij frontline, after what they said was an advance by them in the Manasher al-Hajr area where the forces of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad were stationed, in Aleppo. Photo: Reuters

Suleiman Al-Khaldi in Beiruit

A cessation of hostilities agreement brokered by Russia and the United States brought a measure of relief to the battered Syrian city of Aleppo yesterday but President Bashar al-Assad said he still sought a crushing victory over rebel forces.

Syrian state media said the army would abide by a "regime of calm" in the city that came into effect at 1am for 48 hours, and relative calm prevailed on yesterday morning after two weeks of death and destruction.

The army blamed Islamist insurgents for violating the agreement overnight by what it called indiscriminate shelling of some government-held residential areas of divided Aleppo. But residents said the violence had eased by morning and more shops had opened up.

Elsewhere in Syria, fighting persisted. Isil militants captured the Shaer gas field in eastern Syria, the first gain for the hardline jihadists in the Palmyra desert area since they lost the ancient city in March, according to rebel sources and a monitor.

Assad said he would accept nothing less than an outright victory against rebels in Aleppo and across Syria, state media reported.

In a telegram sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin thanking Moscow for its military support, Assad said the army was set on "attaining final victory" and "crushing the aggression" in its fight against the rebels.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least one person was killed in rebel shelling overnight of the Midan neighbourhood on the government side of Aleppo, which was Syria's commercial hub and largest city before the war. Rockets also hit the New Aleppo district, state media said.

But a resident of the rebel-held eastern part of the city said that although warplanes flew overnight, there were none of the intense raids seen during the past 10 days of air strikes.

Irish Independent

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