Russia announces pause in Aleppo bombing

The decision to pause the bombing of Aleppo comes as Russia rules out a lasting-ceasefire, saying a truce would help opposition forces regroup and restore their military capability.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Russia and the United States declared a ceasefire in Semptember, but it proved short-lived.

The Syrian regime and Russia will pause attacks on the Syrian city of Aleppo for eight hours on Thursday to allow civilians and opposition forces to leave the city, the Russian defence ministry said on Monday.

The two sides stepped up their air strikes targeting opposition-held areas in east Aleppo after a ceasefire brokered by Russia and the United States fell apart last month. 

At least 448 people including 82 children have been killed in air strikes since September 19. (Reuters)

"On Oct. 20 from 0800 (0500 GMT) until 1600, a humanitarian pause will be implemented in the area of Aleppo. For that period, Russia's air force and Syrian government forces will halt air strikes and firing from other weapons," senior defence ministry official Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoy said in a press briefing in Moscow.

The pause is intended "first and foremost so that civilians can move freely, for the evacuation of the sick and wounded, and also for the removal of rebels," he added.

“All civilians who leave the city are guaranteed full security, medical and other assistance, as well as temporary shelter. In addition, the people will be provided with hot meals and basic necessities."

According to Russia’s plan, two corridors will be created for the withdrawal of the opposition forces. They will open six more humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians.

More than 250,000 civilians are living under a regime siege in East Aleppo. (Reuters)

The European Union condemned Russia and Syrian regime for their air strikes on Aleppo.

"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," the EU said in a statement.

"The deliberate targeting of hospitals, medical personnel, schools and essential infrastructure, as well as the use of barrel bombs, cluster bombs, and chemical weapons ... may amount to war crimes," it added.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and over half the country displaced since the Syrian civil war began in March 2011.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that the body welcomed Russia’s announcement.

"Any lessening of the violence, lessening of the fighting, any pause that's actually implemented, would be very much welcome," Dujarric told reporters.

"We will use whatever pause we have to do whatever we can. Obviously there is a need for a longer pause in order to get [aid] trucks in," he said.

Western governments have been demanding a lasting-ceasefire. But Rudskoy said a truce would give opposition forces an opportunity to regroup and restore their military capability.

TRTWorld and agencies