UN says three hours of Russian truce in Syria 'not enough'

UN Aid Chief says Russia’s three-hour truce in Aleppo on Thursday is not enough, calls for at least 48-hours to get sufficient aid for trapped civilians.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

​ Boys salvage goods from a site hit by air strikes in the opposition held town of Atareb in Aleppo province, Syria. Click and drag to move ​

The United Nation said on Wednesday that three-hours of daily ceasefire in Aleppo is not enough for humanitarian convoys to enter the Syrian city safely.

The UN's statement came in response to Russia’s announcement that there would be humanitarian windows established in Aleppo from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. local time on Thursday.

"Clearly, from our point of view, we're simply there to meet the need, all the need...," UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien told reporters at a press conference. "To meet that capacity of need you need two (road) lanes and you need to have about 48 hours to get sufficient trucks in."

"When we're offered three hours then you have to ask what could be achieved in that three hours - is it to meet the need, or would it only just meet a very small part of the need?

United Nations humanitarian chief, Stephen O'Brien address a news conferenceon August 3, 2016

Russian army’s general Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoy said on Wednesday that all military hostilities, aviation strikes and artillery strikes would be halted to guarantee total security for the convoys to Aleppo during cesasefire hours.

"This is to ensure that all interested organisations have the opportunity to deliver their humanitarian assistance to the residents of Aleppo," Rudskoi said.

A spokesman for a major opposition group fighting inside Aleppo told Reuters it was sceptical of the Russian plan.

"Is this publicity that Russia is a neutral party? What is three hours? In those three hours they will just be bombing (opposition-held) Idlib!" said Abd al-Salaam Abd al-Razzaq, military spokesman for the Nour al Din al-Zinki group.

Asked at 10:45 a.m. local time whether the ceasefire had taken effect, Mohammed Rasheed, spokesman for the rebel Jaish al-Nasr group, told Reuters: "No, on the contrary."

"Today since the morning there has been a (government) attempt to advance in the Ramousah area. There has been a big escalation by Russian warplanes," he added.

Journalist Julian Röpcke, who follows events in Syria closely, tweeted a picture of a Russian warplane flying over Aleppo just 43 minutes before the ceasefire came into effect while regime forces attempted to make territorial advances in the city. 

On Wednesday, air strikes killed at least 19 people and wounded dozens in Idlib province, southwest of Aleppo. One Idlib town, Saraqeb, has been on the receiving end of heavy air strikes since a Russian helicopter was shot down nearby ten days ago.

Two weeks ago Russia and the Syrian regime declared a joint humanitarian operation for the besieged area, showering it with leaflets telling fighters to surrender and civilians to leave through a number of "humanitarian corridors" it had set up.

Russian and Syrian warplanes have bombarded eastern Aleppo and other opposition-held areas of Syria everyday for months.

The United States suggested the humanitarian corridors plan may be an attempt to depopulate the city so that the Syrian army can seize it.

TRTWorld and agencies