An official of Russia’s military general staff said that Russian and Syrian forces are preparing a “humanitarian pause” for the besieged city of Aleppo on Thursday.
Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying Monday that Russian and Syrian forces will halt their fighting from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 20 in order to allow civilians and rebels safe passage out of the city as well as for the evacuation of the sick and wounded.
He said there will be two corridors by which people can leave the city.
Such “humanitarian pauses” will be regular, Gen. Rudskoi said, and will give temporary relief to the divided city.
Russian and Syrian forces have been bombarding rebel-controlled areas of Aleppo since an internationally brokered cease-fire collapsed last month. Roughly 275,000 people have been subjected to indiscriminate aerial bombing that has killed hundreds.
Russia stopped short of initiating a full-fledged cease-fire, a step that Western governments have been demanding.
“In the current circumstances a unilateral cease-fire would be meaningless,” Gen. Rudskoi said. “Jabhat al-Nusra and groups allied to it would once again be given time to recover, regroup and restore its military capability,” he said, using the Arabic name for the Nusra Front.
Moscow has been accusing the West of providing extremist fighters with weapons and other support. Gen. Rudskoi said Russia was working with the United Nations and countries that have influence on the Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaida that is also known as the Levant Conquest Front and the Fatah al-Sham Front, to persuade its militants to leave the city, but that will take time.
Russia first opened escape routes for rebels and civilians out of Aleppo in July, but rights groups said that Syrian government forces had prevented them from leaving. Russia said that rebels shoot at civilians who try to leave.
The United Nations said it would welcome any pause in fighting in the besieged city of Aleppo.
But a U. S. State Department spokesman said that while an eight-hour pause in attacks by Russian and Syrian forces on rebel-held eastern districts of Aleppo “would be a good thing,” he cautioned that “it’s a bit too little, too late.”
Spokesman Mark Toner, speaking to reporters in Washington, D. C., said the people of Aleppo “have been subjected to near constant bombardment and air strikes” that has killed many civilians and leveled much of the city’s civilian infrastructure. He said the goal is “to starve out and to drive out the opposition and civilians who’ve held on there for so long.”
Meanwhile, Russia’s U. N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said military officers from the U. S. and Russia were meeting experts from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar to work out ways to separate Syria’s moderate opposition from former al-Qaida-linked fighters in eastern Aleppo.
He said Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar “did express their intention to work with those moderate opposition groups” to separate them from the Nusra Front extremists.
Elsewhere, the violence continued. Airstrikes on rebel-held areas in the province of Aleppo on Monday killed at least 36 people, including children, opposition activists said.
Most of the deaths were in the village of Oweijel just west of the city of Aleppo, where at least 23 people were killed in an airstrike that also wounded dozens, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Another monitoring group, the Local Coordination Committees, said the air raid was carried out by Russian warplanes and put the death toll at 30.
More than a dozen people were also killed in a besieged eastern rebel-held neighborhood in Aleppo. The Aleppo Media Center, an activist collective, said those killed included 11 people with the same family name of Qabs ranging from a month-and-a-half-old baby girl to a 25-year-old man.
Also Monday, Syrian state media claimed 49 rebels were killed and wounded in fighting in the neighborhoods of Sheikh Saeed and Shurfa on the southern edges of Aleppo.
In the nearby province of Idlib, a U. S.-led coalition drone struck a car in the provincial capital that carries the same name, killing all inside, according to the Observatory and a jihadi official. It was not immediately clear who was in the vehicle, but such attacks have previously targeted officials with al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria.
The Observatory said the attack targeted a faction commander. An official with Fatah al-Sham Front said all those in the car were “martyred.” The man, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said it was not clear if members of his group were targeted.
© Source: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/world/2016/10/18/Russia-says-humanitarian-pause-in-works-for-Aleppo-Thursday/stories/201610180100
All rights are reserved and belongs to a source media.