Russia said Monday its forces and Syrian regime troops would briefly halt fire in Aleppo on Thursday, as criticism mounted of the ferocious Moscow-backed assault on the Syrian city.
“We have taken a decision not to waste time and to introduce ‘humanitarian pauses’, mainly for the free passage of civilians, evacuation of the sick and wounded and withdrawal of fighters,” senior Russian military officer Sergei Rudskoi said at a press briefing.
The ceasefire would run from 0800 to 1600 local time (0500 GMT to 1300 GMT) “in the area of Aleppo”, Rudskoi said.
“During this period the Russian air force and Syrian government troops will halt air strikes and firing from any other types of weapons,” he said.
Rudskoi said that the initiative comes as Russia, the United Nations and “countries with influence” were continuing to work on a plan for getting jihadists from the Fateh al-Sham Front, formerly known as Al-Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, to leave Aleppo.
Russia is currently conducting a fierce bombing campaign in support of a regime offensive to capture rebel-held eastern Aleppo, drawing fierce condemnation from the West.
The European Union blasted Russia for causing “untold suffering” and said that air strikes by Moscow and Damascus in Aleppo “may amount to war crimes”.
Moscow last Thursday said it was ready to guarantee safe passage for rebel fighters out of eastern Aleppo along a pre-ordained corridor on the Castello Road, the main potential route for humanitarian assistance into the city.