The Russian Defence Ministry yesterday announced the extension of today’s humanitarian truce in Aleppo by three hours i.e. until 7pm local time, to facilitate the exit of civilians and armed fighters. The original duration of the truce was 8 hours but became 11 hours after it was extended.
The Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Sergei Rudskoy announced in a statement yesterday that the decision to extend the truce came “after receiving a large number of requests for an extension from international organisations” and pointed out that the extension “will allow representatives of the United Nations and the Syrian Red Crescent to ensure that the sick and injured, their companions and civilians have left the city”.
Rudskoy was keen to reassure those who have decided to leave, and announced that Syrian troops have withdrawn a sufficient distance to ensure the safe passage of armed fighters. He also expressed the hope that the United States and other influential powers would convince the leaders of armed groups to “leave the city”. He added that there is a centre in which Russian officers are working to coordinate what he claims is a “humanitarian operation” to evacuate civilians and fighters from the city.
Rudskoy also announced that the Russian side has designated two passages for armed fighters to leave the city, one passage heads towards the Turkish border and the other heads towards the province of Idlib. He added that forces from the Humaimeem centre, representatives of the Syrian regime’s forces and representatives of the province of Aleppo will supervise the passages out of Aleppo.
Russia has suffered from a wave of widespread international criticism because of the constant shelling on the city of Aleppo and the killing and destruction that this has caused. The situation in Syria has pushed a group of Russian intellectuals to send a letter signed by more than 700 Russians to the UN Security Council. The letter expresses their deep concern about the “humanitarian disaster” that prevails in the city and says that they hold the UN Security Council responsible for this. They stressed in the letter that “attempts to end the humanitarian disaster in Aleppo, including by major countries in the UN Security Council, have reached a dead end”.