10/20/2016, 10.11
SYRIA
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Truce in Aleppo, Moscow extends three-hour "humanitarian pause"

The goal is to secure a corridor in the eastern sector for civilians and militiamen who wish to leave the war. Six "safe" corridors set up to evacuate the civilians, particularly the elderly and injured. Two other corridors reserved for the armed fighters. The standoff between Moscow and the West continues.

Aleppo (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Moscow has acceded to a "humanitarian pause" that provides for the interruption for several hours of joint Russian-Syrian air raids and shelling of Aleppo , where the mother of all the battles is taking place. The objective of mini-truce unilaterally approved by the Kremlin, is to promote the safe evacuation from the rebel controlled eastern sector, of civilians and militiamen who decide to abandon the armed struggle.

In the hours leading up to the start of the ceasefire, the Russian government stressed that Moscow and Damascus have interrupted their air strikes two days earlier than expected. The break was also extended for another three hours, from eight to eleven. And the Russian military authorities do not rule out that it may be prolonged.

From a month Aleppo has been the scene of a massive battle between the Syrian army, backed by Russian air raids, and rebel militias - with jihadist groups - who control the eastern sector. Missiles and rockets hit schools, churches and homes causing civilian casualties, including children.

The "humanitarian pause" began officially at 8 o'clock this morning local time and was due to continue until 5 in the afternoon. Russian military sources, however, confirm that the interruption in the raids and bombings will continue up to 7 pm. Some Syrian army sources even speak of "three days" to stop the fighting.

Moscow and Damascus have offered fighters from the two militias "special corridors" along which they can leave the city "with their weapons". However, the jihadists of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, known in the past as the Nusra Front (linked to al Qaeda), have already rejected the Russian offer to abandon the city. The militiamen intend to continue the war, along with other prominent rebel factions who rejected the offer of Moscow calling it only "a gimmick".

Meanwhile the confrontation between Moscow and the West continues, with the United States and several European nations close to the rebels. Western leaders insist that the Kremlin air raids on Aleppo constitute a "war crime".

An accusation revived yesterday by the French President François Hollande, during a multilateral meeting in Berlin which was also attended by the Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has called the raids "inhuman".

Putin once again rejected  the accusations, speaking empty "rhetoric" that takes no account of "the reality" in Syria. Moscow, in fact, says that in wanting to protect Assad's opponents, the West is protecting "terrorists."

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