Syria’s Aleppo calms down after Russia halts airstrikes

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Damascus, Oct 18 (IANS) Syria’s northern city of Aleppo calmed down on Tuesday, as Russia has halted airstrikes in the city, a security source said.

The sky over hard-hit Aleppo has never been so tranquil for a long time, Xinhua news agency quoted the source as saying.

Russia announced airstrikes on rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo have been halted from 10.00 a.m. (local time) on Tuesday, as a prelude to an eight-hour humanitarian truce in the city, which will enter into force on Thursday.

The Thursday truce could see the evacuation of hardline rebels of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, previously known as the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

The truce and the rebels’ evacuation are believed to be the outcome of a recent meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, where world powers Moscow and Washionton sought to broker a humanitarian pause and eventual political solution to the crisis.

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The Russian air force and the Syrian army recently upped their offensives in Aleppo in order to banish the rebels from the east of the city.

The Syrian government has issued multiple statements that urged the rebels to leave eastern Aleppo and promised them a safe passage to the rebel-held city of Idlib.

Meanwhile, Russia has urged the evacuation of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham group, which is listed as a terrorist group by the UN, from Aleppo.

On the other side, the US and its allies have accused Russia and the Syrian government of committing war crimes by shelling Aleppo.

But observers said both Washington and Moscow are believed to have agreed on evacuating ultra-radical groups from Aleppo in exchange for a halt of Russian airstrikes.

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Aleppo, located near the borders with Turkey, is Syria’s largest city and was once its economic hub.

It has been a focal point of clashes between the Syrian army and the rebels.



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