June 21, 2018

Truce takes hold in Aleppo, one person reported killed

A man holds the hand of a girl as they rush out after rebels bombarded government-held areas of Aleppo earlier this week

Relative calm prevailed on Thursday in the Syrian city of Aleppo following a US-Russian agreement to extend a cessation of hostilities that had crumbled after nearly two weeks of violence between rebels and government forces that killed dozens.

Syrian state media said the army would abide by a “regime of calm” in the city that came into effect at 1 a.m. (2200 GMT on Wednesday) for 48 hours.

But the army again blamed Islamist insurgents for violating the agreement overnight by what it called indiscriminate shelling of some government-held residential areas of the divided city.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said one person at least was killed in rebel shelling overnight of the Midan neighbourhood on the government side of the city.
State media said rockets hit the New Aleppo district.

A resident contacted in the rebel-held eastern part of the city said although warplanes were flying overnight, there were none of the intense raids seen during more than 10 days of aerial bombing.

People in several districts ventured out onto the streets where more shops than normal had opened, the resident of al Shaar neighbourhood said.

Another resident said civilians in several districts sensed a general trend towards calm.

“From last night it was positive and my wife went out to shop and shops opened and people breathed. We did not hear the shelling and bombing we had gotten accustomed to,” Sameh Tutunji, a merchant said.

“Enough of this daily killing after more than 10 days,” he added.

A rebel source also said that despite intermittent firing across the city’s main front lines, fighting had subsided and no army shelling of residential areas had been heard.

The surge in bloodshed in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city before the civil war, wrecked the first major “cessation of hostilities” agreement of the war, sponsored by Washington and Moscow, which had held since February.

A spokesman for the mainstream Syrian opposition said the Saudi-based High Negotiations Committee (HNC) supported the deal but wanted a cessation of hostilities that would cover all of Syria, not just limited to Aleppo. It blamed the government for violating the truce.

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