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8-Hour Russian Ceasefire in Aleppo amid European Split on Sanctions - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Paris, Beirut- Moscow has absorbed on Monday the harsh accusations pointed against it during the meeting of the European Union Foreign Ministers after the Russian Army announced a plan to halt its attacks on Aleppo for eight hours next Thursday as part of a “humanitarian ceasefire.”

Speaking at a briefing in Moscow, Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoy, a senior Defense Ministry official said: “On Oct. 20 from 8:00 until 16:00, a humanitarian pause will be implemented in the area of Aleppo. For that period, Russia’s air force and Syrian government forces will halt air strikes and firing from other weapons.”

A statement from the European Union meeting held in Luxembourg on Monday spoke in a harsh tone by accusing Moscow for “the deliberate targeting of hospitals, medical personnel, schools and essential infrastructure,” and that the targeting civilians with barrel bombs and chemical weapons, “may amount to war crimes.”

However, European sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that although Europeans “altogether agree” on classifying the situation in Syria, they strongly disagree on their economic interests with Russia, and their desire to stay away from any tightness in the already tensed relations with Moscow, particularly concerning the possibility to introduce new sanctions against Syria’s ally.

Member of the Syrian National Coalition Michel Kilo told Asharq Al-Awsat that Russia’s announcement could not be separated from the international denunciations against Moscow’s behavior in Aleppo.

“This denunciation has a legal repercussion because it mentions the commitment of massacres against humanity,” Kilo said.

He said that the Russian ceasefire coincides with voices coming from inside Syria, including journalists, political analysts and former military officials who are all against the Russian military performance in Syria.

Prior to Russia’ ceasefire announcement, the E.U. said in a statement from Luxembourg: “Since the beginning of the offensive by the regime and its allies, notably Russia, the intensity and scale of the aerial bombardment of eastern Aleppo is clearly disproportionate.”

The U.N. welcomed on Monday Moscow’s decision to halt attacks on Aleppo for humanitarian purposes.

“Any lessening of the violence, lessening of the fighting, any pause that’s actually implemented, would be very much welcome,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

In Syria, the regime has not halted its gradual destruction of villages located in the Aleppo countryside. On Thursday, the regime pounded the town of Khan al-Shayh in western Ghouta with barrel bombs.

In Maadamiyat al-Sham, the regime reached an agreement with local officials to remove armed fighters from the town.