Russia to livestream evacuation of Aleppo
Russia has announced that it will broadcast live images of the evacuation of civilians and wounded people from besieged eastern Aleppo during a "humanitarian pause" it has scheduled for Thursday.
The planned pause would also be extended for an additional three hours to run from 8am until 7pm Moscow time (6pm Thursday to 5am Friday NZ time), General Sergey Rudskoi of the Russian General Staff said in a statement carried by the official ITAR-TASS news agency on Wednesday.
The extension is intended to give UN and Red Crescent representatives enough time to evacuate sick and injured people and civilians from the rebel-held enclave, Rudskoi said.
Activists and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, have said that very few civilians made use of humanitarian corridors from eastern Aleppo previously announced by Russia.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry meanwhile said that troops had pulled back from two designated humanitarian corridors to facilitate the transport of rebel fighters from eastern Aleppo to areas of their choice, Syrian state news agency SANA reported.
Rebels have said they will not leave eastern Aleppo, the last remaining major urban centre controlled by opposition forces.
The UN has said that security fears, the fear of arrest and the presence of Syrian troops at the corridors designated by Russia have prevented civilians from using them to leave the enclave.
Some 250,000 to 300,000 people are thought to be trapped in eastern Aleppo, with minimal access to food and medical care after hospitals have been repeatedly hit in airstrikes, apparently by Russian or Syrian forces.
The Syrian regime and its Russian allies on Wednesday suspended airstrikes on rebel areas in the divided city of Aleppo for the second successive day, ahead of Thursday's planned humanitarian pause announced by Moscow for later this week.
Aleppo has been the target of an intense campaign by the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russia since a US-Russian brokered ceasefire in the country fell apart on September 19.