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Wednesday 21 March 2018

Truce in Syria's Aleppo extended for three days, says Russia

The extension will also apply to the Latakia region in Syria
The extension will also apply to the Latakia region in Syria

A fragile ceasefire in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo has been extended for 72 hours, Russia said, as the Islamic State group battled other militant factions near the city on Saturday.

The Russian Defence Ministry said the extension was made at Moscow's initiative and would also apply to the coastal province of Latakia.

The ceasefire will now last until 12.01am local time on Tuesday (9.01pm GMT Monday).

Russia and the US last week reached an agreement to extend Syria's ceasefire to Aleppo, which had seen days of heavy fighting that killed 286 civilians, including 57 children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor.

The Syrian military had earlier said the ceasefire in Aleppo would last only 48 hours.

The Russian military accused the Syrian al Qaida affiliate, known as the Nusra Front, of attempting to destroy the ceasefire by carrying out attacks on Aleppo and trying to impose a blockade on the city from the south.

On Friday, a coalition of insurgents, including the Nusra Front, seized the nearby village of Khan Touman from pro-government forces, activists said.

The Nusra Front and IS are not included in the cease-fire.

The observatory and the other groups said Aleppo was relatively quiet after the ceasefire was extended but reported heavy fighting between IS and other militant groups in the northern parts of Aleppo province, near the border with Turkey.

The observatory, which relies on a network of activists inside Syria, said IS captured two villages in the region in clashes that killed least 12 extremists. The Local Coordination Committees, an activist-run collective, said the fighting is now concentrated near the northern villages of Dalha, Harjaleh and Hiwar Kilis.

Meanwhile in Damascus, a senior Iranian official met with Syria's president Bashar Assad and vowed continued support for his government in the country's five-year-old civil war.

Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted by Syria's state news agency SANA as saying that Tehran will always stand by Syria because it "knows that terrorism does not target Syria but the whole people of the region".

Press Association

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