Russia extends ‘humanitarian pause’ in Aleppo attack

Russia extends ‘humanitarian pause’ in Aleppo attack
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Russia announced it will broadcast live images of the evacuation of civilians and wounded people from besieged eastern Aleppo during a “humanitarian pause” it has scheduled for Thursday.

The planned pause would also be extended for an additional three hours to run from 0500 to 1600 GMT, General Sergey Rudskoi of the Russian General Staff said in a statement carried by the official Itar-Tass news agency on Wednesday.

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The extension is intended to give UN and Red Crescent representatives enough time to evacuate sick and wounded people and civilians from the rebel-held enclave, Rudskoi said.

Activists and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, have said few civilians made use of humanitarian corridors from eastern Aleppo previously announced by Russia.

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The Syrian Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said troops had pulled back from two designated humanitarian corridors to facilitate the transport of rebel fighters from eastern Aleppo to areas of their choice, Syrian state news agency SANA reported.

Rebels have said they will not leave eastern Aleppo, the last remaining major urban centre controlled by opposition forces.

The UN has said security fears, the fear of arrest, and the presence of Syrian troops at the corridors designated by Russia have prevented civilians from using them to leave the enclave.

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Some 275,000 people are thought to be trapped in eastern Aleppo, with minimal access to food and medical care after hospitals have been repeatedly hit in air strikes, apparently by Russian or Syrian forces.

Youssef al-Youssef, of the rebel group Noureddine al-Zinki described the new Russian announcement as “mere propaganda”.

“This is not a truce. Eight hours to evacuate Aleppo is a request for surrender. This is totally rejected,” said Zakaria Malhafji, a spokesman for the rebel group Fistaqim.

“We will not leave the city. We want a total truce and the entry of aid,” he told dpa news agency.

The Syrian regime and its Russian allies on Wednesday suspended air strikes on rebel areas in the divided city of Aleppo for the second successive day ahead of Thursday’s planned humanitarian pause.

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Aleppo has been the target of an intense campaign by the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russia since a US-Russian brokered ceasefire in the country fell apart on September 19.

Activists inside eastern Aleppo said government planes had dropped leaflets calling on fighters to leave “because they have no other choice”.

Aljazirahnews


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