Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered a new humanitarian pause in Syria's Aleppo, forcing opposition fighters to leave the eastern, besieged districts. The Syrian opposition dismissed Putin's Aleppo initiatives saying that Russia's humanitarian pause is a media stunt for "public consumption."
The Russian Defense Ministry, which is helping forces loyal to Bashar Assad, is trying to retake full control of Aleppo, said opposition groups, who would be allowed to exit the city unharmed and with their weapons between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time on Nov. 4 via two special corridors. Civilians and the sick and wounded would be allowed to leave via six other corridors, it said.
President Vladimir Putin had ordered the pause in fighting "to avoid senseless victims," the Defense Ministry said, saying that Syrian regime would ensure that Assad's troops pulled back from the two corridors designated for opposition.
Russia and its Syrian allies say they halted air attacks on Aleppo on Oct. 18. Western governments had alleged that the strikes had been killing civilians in large numbers, an allegation Moscow denied.
Humanitarian pauses designed to allow both opposition fighters and civilians to exit the city have been organized by Moscow and Damascus before, but have largely failed amid continued violence.
Russian Defense minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that Russia had ceased air strikes on eastern Aleppo for 16 days, following criticism over a Russian-backed Syrian regime assault that has killed hundreds of civilians and destroyed infrastructure, including hospitals. The halt in bombing was initially declared ahead of a short ceasefire that ended last month. Moscow at the time ruled out a truce extension.
Shoigu also stated that the prospect of a political process to establish peace in Syria has been postponed to an "uncertain period of time", Russian defense minister said in Moscow Tuesday.
Aleppo is the focal point of the six-year war in Syria. Assad has said he is determined to retake the country's largest city and former commercial capital. The Assad forces have maintained a siege on the opposition-held eastern quarters since September. The U.N. estimates 275,000 people are trapped inside with dwindling supplies of food and medicine.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests erupting as part of the "Arab Spring" uprisings with unexpected ferocity. Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-torn country, according to UN figures.
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