Syria war: Russia announces Aleppo “humanitarian pause”
Russia has announced a “humanitarian pause” in its bombing of the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Moscow said it would halt operations in Aleppo on Thursday 20 October for an eight-hour span between 08:00 (05:00 GMT) and 16:00.
The Russian defence ministry said the pause was so that civilians and rebels could leave the city.
The move comes on the day 14 members of the same family were reportedly killed in a strike in Aleppo.
“On October 20 from 08:00 until 1600, a humanitarian pause will be implemented in the area of Aleppo,” said Russian defence ministry official Sergei Rudskoy.
“For that period, Russia”s air force and Syrian government forces will halt air strikes and firing from other weapons.”
“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,” he said.
Russia has come under increasing criticism from Western nations for its attacks on rebel-held east Aleppo, with the US and several prominent political figures accusing Moscow of war crimes.
The EU Foreign Affairs Council also published findings on Monday, which found Russia”s involvement – along with Syrian government forces – may amount to war crimes.
“The deliberate targeting of hospitals, medical personnel, schools and essential infrastructure, as well as the use of barrel bombs, cluster bombs, and chemical weapons, constitute a catastrophic escalation of the conflict … and may amount to war crimes,” they said.
Moscow denies the accusations. President Vladimir Putin dismissed such claims as “rhetoric” that did not take into account the realities in Syria.