Russia offers 10-hour ceasefire in Aleppo

  • 03/11/2016
Russia claims it has not bombed Aleppo in about two weeks to evacuate non-terrorists (Reuters)
Russia claims it has not bombed Aleppo in about two weeks to evacuate non-terrorists (Reuters)

The Russian and the Syrian militaries will cease fire on the city of Aleppo for 10 hours on Friday to allow civilians and moderate opposition forces to leave embattled eastern parts of the city, Russian General Valery Gerasimov says.

"Taking into account that our US colleagues are incapable of separating the opposition from terrorists, we directly appeal to all the leaders of the armed groups to stop combat actions and leave Aleppo with their weapons," Gerasimov said on Wednesday in comments carried by state news agency TASS.

There will be a total of eight humanitarian corridors open during the ceasefire, which should last from 9am to 7pm (local time), Gerasimov told reporters.

Two of the corridors are specifically designated to allow rebels to depart north towards Turkey or southwest towards the Syrian city of Idlib, Gerasimov said.

"The other six corridors will be designed for the departure of civilians and the evacuation of sick and wounded people."

Russia has been bombing militant groups in Syria for more than a year in support of that country's government, a longtime ally. Some regional and Western powers, including the US, however, support so-called moderate opposition forces seeking to overthrow Syria's government.

Russia has repeatedly demanded that the moderates split from organisations designated as terrorists by the United Nations. Much of Aleppo is controlled by militants linked to the UN-designated terrorist group al-Qaeda.

Russia claims it has not bombed Aleppo in about two weeks to evacuate non-terrorists. In the meantime, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to conquer Aleppo.

Al-Assad told a gathering of Western journalists in the Syrian capital, Damascus, that he expects to rule Syria until 2021 despite the ongoing civil war raging in the country.

In an interview published by The New York Times on Tuesday, al-Assad ruled out any political changes prior to a military conclusion to the conflict and said he would stay in office at least until the end of his third seven-year term.

Al-Assad "radiated confidence and friendliness" during the interview, in which he accused the US of being a driving force behind the conflict and of actively backing the Islamic State terrorist organisation and other extremist groups.

"I'm just a headline: the bad president, the bad guy, who is killing the good guys," al-Assad said. "You know this narrative. The real reason is toppling the government. This government doesn't fit the criteria of the United States."

However, al-Assad said he was still willing to engage in dialogue even with the US.

"But that doesn't mean to give up our sovereignty and transfer Syria into a puppet country," al-Assad added.