05/05/2016, 09.49
SYRIA
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Aleppo, "partial truce" between Syrian army and rebel groups

Last night “a partial and shaky" ceasefire went into effect between the two sides at war. Jihadist groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda excluded. Fundamental  role of diplomatic pressure from Russia and the United States, concerned about the escalation of violence. In less than two weeks 300 civilian casualties in the northern capital.

 

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) – On the back of intense diplomatic pressure from Russia and the US, the "partial and shaky" truce between the Syrian army and non-jihadist rebel groups has also extended to the city of Aleppo, brought to the brink by days of heavy fighting. According to Washington sources there has already been a reasonable decrease in violence in the "Capital of the North", where in less than two weeks, almost 300 people have been killed.

The Syrian army confirmed they intend to respect a 48 hour ceasefire as of at one o'clock last night (11 PM, May 4, in Italy).

The White House and the Kremlin mediated a deal for a cessation of hostilities on a national scale on February 27th, but in recent weeks the truce has faltered under the heavy artillery shelling by the rebels and Syrian Air Force (supported by Russian fighter jets).

The agreement does not concern the jihadi militias of the Islamic State (IS) and the al-Nusra Front, the local offshoot of al Qaeda.

International diplomacy has welcomed the extension of the ceasefire to Aleppo.  US Secretary of State John Kerry expects "a cessation of hostilities by all the" fighting fronts. Mark Toner, spokesman for the US State Department, confirms "a drop in violence" in the last hour, "especially in Aleppo, although it is not complete of course".

For the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, a failure of the truce would have "catastrophic" consequences, with over 400 thousand people fleeing from the city and from the province to the Turkish border.

The desperate situation in the city is also confirmed by AsiaNews sources. Yesterday 44 year old Franciscan Fr. Alsabagh Ibrahim, pastor of the Latin parish of Aleppo, spoke of  "missiles on hospitals, schools and mosques." The defenseless population is being subjected to a "real crime against humanity," said the priest.  He concluded that this is why Christian leaders in the city have launched an appeal to the bishops, priests and faithful Catholics around the world to offer “Masses next Sunday, May 8, for peace in Syria, especially in Aleppo".

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