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Russia begins ceasefire for Aleppo “safe exit”

Oct 20, 2016, 3:59 AM EDT
Devastation in Aleppo
(Source: Freedom House/flickr)

A unilateral ceasefire by Russian and Syrian forces formally came into effect in the eastern, rebel-held part of Aleppo on Thursday, a move that opponents greeted with skepticism, saying that it aimed at driving the fighters to surrender. The Syrian army said that it set up exit corridors in two designated areas, adding that the authorities may extend the ceasefire period if need be.

The “humanitarian pause” by Russia-backed Syrian regime comes as the two countries face allegations of committing war crimes in opposition-held Aleppo, where some 2,700 people have been killed since government forces launched a major offensive against the rebels last month, writes the BBC.

Rebels allege that Moscow and Syrian army is trying to evacuate all the civilians from the besieged parts of Aleppo in order to begin an all-out battle in the city, notes Reuters. Rebels claim that the government forces have failed to make inroads in Aleppo despite fierce bombing and shelling.

In a separate development, the Kurdish forces in Iraq, announced a “large-scale operation” to help the country’s forces liberate Mosul from Islamic State militants on Thursday, reports The Guardian. The announcement came as Iraqi special forces, also known as counterterrorism forces, joined the multi-pronged Mosul battle from the eastern side.