October 28, 2016

Russia Announces Daily Cease-Fires to Allow Aid into Aleppo

Aid is urgently needed for civilians in Aleppo, the UN says

MOSCOW — Russia said Wednesday that there would be daily three-hour cease-fires in the Syrian city of Aleppo starting on Thursday to allow aid convoys to enter the city safely, a proposal that the United Nations said it would consider.

The Syrian government and rebel forces control different portions of Aleppo. The rebel-held east, where about 250,000 people are thought to be living, was surrounded in early July after government forces cut the main supply route into the district.

On Friday, rebels staged a major assault southwest of Aleppo to break through the siege. Fighters managed to pierce the ring of government-controlled territory, but a safe corridor for civilians and aid has not yet been established as fierce fighting continues.

Speaking at a televised briefing, Lt. Gen. Sergei F. Rudskoi, a senior Russian Defense Ministry official, said the cease-fire would run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. local time.

General Rudskoi said the question of joint control over the delivery of humanitarian aid was being discussed with the United Nations and the United States.

He said “all military action, air and artillery strikes” would be halted for the three-hour periods.


Opposition fighters driving a tank in Aleppo’s rebel-held eastern portion, besieged by government forces for three weeks. CreditOmar Haj Kadour/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“This is to ensure that all interested organizations have the opportunity to deliver their humanitarian assistance to the residents of Aleppo,” General Rudskoi said.

He added that Russia, an ally of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, would work with the Syrian government to ensure the safe delivery of aid.

A spokesman for a rebel group fighting inside Aleppo said he was skeptical of the Russian plan.

“Is this publicity that Russia is a neutral party?” said Abd al-Salaam Abd al-Razzaq, the spokesman for the Nour al Din al-Zinki Movement. “What is three hours? In those three hours they will just be bombing Idlib,” he said, referring to another rebel-held area.

Airstrikes killed at least 19 people and wounded dozens in Idlib Province, southwest of Aleppo, on Wednesday. One town, Saraqeb, has been hit daily with airstrikes since a Russian helicopter was shot down nearby 10 days ago.

Concerns are growing for the roughly 250,000 people believed to be trapped inside eastern Aleppo, where food supplies, infrastructure and medical services are immensely strained.

The United Nations aid chief, Stephen O’Brien, said on Wednesday that he was willing to consider the Russian plan, but that a 48-hour pause in fighting was needed to meet all the humanitarian needs in Aleppo.

A State Department spokeswoman, Elizabeth Trudeau, said the United States would welcome any pause in fighting in Syria to facilitate the delivery of vital humanitarian aid, but a truce must be observed by all parties.

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