Russia-announced ceasefire set to begin in Aleppo

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Russia has also announced daily ceasefires for humanitarian aid trucks to arrive in Aleppo. There have also been further reports of chlorine and barrel bomb attacks in the besieged Syrian city.

Russia was set to hold fire on Thursday for a three hour window in order for humanitarian aid trucks to arrive in Aleppo.

It could not be immediately confirmed whether or not the ceasefire had taken effect as of 10 a.m. local time (7:00 UTC).

Russia, which is supporting the Syrian regime, said on Wednesday its forces would not fire for three hours each day, beginning on Thursday.

The 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. local time pause was immediately deemed insufficient by the United Nations, which called for 48-hour pauses. The UN said a fully-fledged ceasefire or weekly pauses were needed to reach the beseiged residents of the city and provide food and medicines which were “running dangerously low.”

Fighting around the city has increased in recent days as rebel fighters broke the government forces’ main route into the west of Aleppo, which was once the country’s largest city, at the end of the ancient Silk Road trading route to Asia.

Barrel bombs kill several

There were reports from a hospital and a civil defense group on Wednesday that chlorine gas was dropped alongside barrel bombs leading to the deaths and injuries. Hamza Khatib, the manager of Al Quds hospital in Aleppo said the hospital had recorded four deaths from gas poisoning and 55 injuries. Khatib said he would keep fragments from the barrel bombs and from victims’ clothing for analysis.

The Syria Civil Defense rescue service in the Zubdiya neighborhood of rebel-held Aleppo said it had recorded three deaths and 22 injuries after a barrel containing gas fell on the city.

Government and opposition forces have both denied using chemical weapons. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed in late 2015 that sulfur mustard had been used for the first time in the conflict.

A quarter of a million people are under seige from government forces in the eastern part of Aleppo. The city has been divided into rebel and government-controled areas since 2012. State troops closed the main road into rebel-held areas in mid-July, effectively cutting off both supplies and exit routes.

Doctors’ letter

In a letter to the US President, doctors in eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo accused the US of inaction in the face of repeated atrocities in the city.

“Unless a permanent lifeline to Aleppo is opened it will be only a matter of time until we are again surrounded by regime troops, hunger takes hold and hospitals’ supplies run completely dry,” the doctors wrote. But they had seen “no effort on behalf of the United States to lift the siege or even use its influence to push the parties to protect civilians.”

Last month, on a single day, four basic medical centers and a blood bank in Aleppo were hit by air strikes. The doctors said that in the past month there had been a total of 42 attacks on medical facilities in Syria, 15 of them on hospitals where they worked.

rs, jm/rc (Reuters, AP, AFP)

 

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