Russia says halt in Aleppo bombing will be extended

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urges the United Nations to do more to facilitate the evacuation of the injured from the battered city.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A view shows what is believed to be one of the roads that people would have to use to access one of the safe exit points opened for people wishing to leave opposition-held areas, in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr, Syria October 20, 2016.

Updated Oct 26, 2016

Moscow said Tuesday that Russian and Syrian regime warplanes have not conducted any air strikes on the city of Aleppo for the last seven days and are upholding a moratorium on bombing.

"All flights by Russian and Syrian air forces have been completely halted in a 10-kilometre zone around Aleppo since October 18," senior military official Sergei Rudskoi said at a briefing. 

"The moratorium on air strikes by Russian and Syrian planes around the city will be extended," he added, without specifying a timeframe.

A so-called "humanitarian pause" declared by Damascus and Moscow ran out at 1600 GMT on Saturday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported there were air strikes afterwards against the opposition-controlled district of Sheikh Saeed after the pause ended. 

Russia's defence spokesman Igor Konashenskov said earlier that six passages for civilians to leave opposition-held eastern Aleppo were still functioning and that 48 women and children left late Monday.

Moscow had on Monday ruled out early moves to renew its total ceasefire in Aleppo after the brief halt ended, admitting that few people had used humanitarian passages to leave the city and blaming failures by the US-led coalition.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday urged the United Nations to do more to facilitate the evacuation of the injured from the battered city.

In a phone conversation with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Lavrov "stressed that representatives of the UN's humanitarian agencies should act in a more resolute manner to remove the obstacles" preventing aid from getting in to eastern Aleppo and those injured from getting out, the Russian foreign ministry said.

Syrian doctors have deplored the failure to evacuate the wounded and sick from opposition-held areas of Aleppo, also blaming the UN for failing to guarantee their security.

A man makes bread in the opposition-held Aleppo, Syria October 25, 2016. (Reuters)

More than 250,000 people are still living in the besieged area.

For its part the UN on Monday criticised Syrian regime forces and opposition groups for failing to organise evacuations during the ceasefire window.

Russian and Syrian planes had stopped bombing from the air on Tuesday last week ahead of the ceasefire.

The West has accused Moscow of perpetrating potential war crimes in Aleppo through indiscriminate bombing in support of a regime offensive to retake total control over Syria's second city.

Nearly 500 people have been killed and more than 2,000 wounded since the Syrian regime army, backed by Russian airpower, launched an operation to recapture eastern Aleppo on September 22.

Russia is a key ally of Syria's regime and began a military intervention in support of Bashar al-Assad in September last year.

Syrian regime's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem is set to hold talks with Lavrov in Moscow on Friday.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week said no UN aid convoy has entered Aleppo since July 7 and food rations will run out by the end of October.




TRTWorld and agencies