Russian-declared Aleppo Ceasefire Under Way

Russian-declared Aleppo ceasefire under way

ALEPPO, Syria, , (Pakistan Point News - APP - 04th Nov, 2016 ) - A Russian-declared ceasefire for opposition-held areas of Syria's second city Aleppo took effect on Friday, but there was little sign that civilians or rebels were heeding calls to leave. Syrian state media said rebels fired rockets at one of the eight evacuation passages open for civilians and rebels, and accused opposition fighters of preventing residents from fleeing. Half-way through the 10-hour ceasefire, AFP correspondents in Aleppo said no one had used any of the passages Moscow said were open.

Damascus ally Russia said the 10-hour "humanitarian pause" was an attempt to "prevent senseless casualties." But a similar, three-day pause last month ended with only a handful of people leaving besieged eastern areas. Once Syria's economic powerhouse, Aleppo has been devastated by fighting since the rebels seized the east of the city in 2012, turning its historic heart into a battlefield. The army cut the last supply route into rebel-held territory in July, leaving more than 250,000 civilians still living there without access to basic goods.

The rebels launched a bid to break the siege last week, which they stepped up on Thursday in the hours before the ceasefire began. Rocket fire on government-held districts killed at least 12 people on Thursday, state media said. The rebels captured the Dahiyet al-Assad neighbourhood and the village of Minyan west of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The latest deaths brought to nearly 70 the number of civilians killed in government-held areas during the offensive, the Britain-based monitoring group added.