THIRTY-6 Lives Claims As Russia Set Brief Cease Fire For Aleppo(Photo)


Physinews: Russian and Syrian forces
will halt hostilities for eight hours in the
eastern districts of Aleppo, Russia's
military announced on Monday, a day on
which opposition activists said their
airstrikes killed at least 36 people,
including several children, in and around
the divided city.


The two militaries will observe a
"humanitarian pause" between 8 a.m. and
4 p.m. on Oct. 20 to allow civilians and
militants safe passage out of the city, Lt.
Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of Russia's general
staff said in Moscow. Militants, the
wounded and sick would be allowed to
evacuate to the neighboring rebel-held
province of Idlib.

U.N. humanitarian officials have pleaded
with combatants to observe weekly 48-
hour cease-fires to allow humanitarian
relief into the city's besieged eastern
districts, but Russian and Syrian forces
have only escalated their aerial and ground
assault on the rebel-held areas in recent
weeks. The airstrikes have claimed
hundreds of lives, wounded many,
flattened apartment buildings and laid
waste to the already crippled medical
sector.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin
told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New
York that the eight-hour pause was a
unilateral halt to fighting. A 48-hour or 72-
hour cease-fire "will require some sort of
mutual arrangement," he said.

Russian and Syrian leaders are now
capitalizing on a proposal made by the
U.N.'s envoy earlier this month to allow al-
Qaida-linked militants to leave in exchange
for peace and local administration for the
eastern districts.

Rebels in the east, along with many
residents, spurned the proposition, citing
their distrust of the government side. And
Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council
resolution mandating an immediate cease-
fire.
Russia's Churkin said that at a meeting
Saturday co-chaired by Russian Foreign
Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S.

Secretary
of State John Kerry, foreign ministers from
Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar said they
would work to separate moderate
opposition groups from the former al-Qaida
affiliate once known as the Nusra Front in
rebel-held eastern Aleppo.

Military experts from all these countries
were scheduled to meet Monday, he said.
If the separation succeeds — which is a
key Russian and Syrian demand — there
are two options, Churkin said. Nusra
fighters must leave Aleppo or they will be
defeated, he said.

Churkin said "the understanding" reached
at Saturday's meeting in Lausanne,
Switzerland, is that once Nusra is gone the
moderate opposition and the Syrian
government will agree on a cease-fire to
end the bloodshed.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark
Toner, speaking to reporters in
Washington, noted that the people of
Aleppo "have been subjected to near
constant bombardment and air strikes"
that have killed many civilians and leveled
much of the city's infrastructure in an effort
"to starve out and to drive out the
opposition and civilians."

"If there is actually an eight-hour pause in
the unremitting suffering of the people of
Aleppo, that would be a good thing. But
frankly, it's a bit too little, too late," Toner
said.

Monday's Russian announcement did not
include any promises of an extended
cease-fire or local administration. It
followed a bloody day of airstrikes on
rebel-held districts in and around Aleppo.

At least 23 people were killed in airstrike
that also wounded dozens in the village of
Oweijel, just west of Aleppo, according to
the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for
Human Rights. Another monitoring group,
the Local Coordination Committees, said
the air raid was carried out by Russian
warplanes and put the death toll at 30.
More than a dozen people were also killed
in the Marjeh neighborhood in eastern
Aleppo. The Aleppo Media Center, an
activist collective, said those killed
included 11 people with the same family
name of Qabs ranging from a six-week-old
baby girl to a 25-year-old man.

The Observatory said at least 50 civilians,
including 18 children, were killed in
airstrikes on the eastern part of the city in
the 24 hours before the Russian
announcement.

Monday's airstrikes coincided with the
launch in neighboring Iraq of a major
operation by Iraqi and Kurdish forces,
backed by the U.S.-led coalition, to retake
the northern city of Mosul from the Islamic
State group. There have been concerns the
government in Damascus could use the
timing of the Mosul offensive to press its
onslaught in Aleppo while world attention is
diverted to developments in Iraq.
Also Monday, Syrian state media claimed
49 rebels were killed and wounded in
fighting in the neighborhoods of Sheikh
Saeed and Shurfa on the southern edges of
Aleppo.

In the nearby province of Idlib, a U.S.-led
coalition drone struck a car in the
provincial capital that carries the same
name, killing all inside, according to the
Observatory and a jihadi official. It was not
immediately clear who was in the vehicle,
but such attacks have previously targeted
officials with al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria,
known as Fatah al-Sham Front.
The Observatory said the attack targeted a
faction commander. An official with Fatah
al-Sham Front, formerly known as Nusra
Front, said all those in the car were
"martyred." The man, who spoke on
condition of anonymity because he was
not authorized to speak to the media, said
it was not clear if members of his group
were targeted.

Earlier this month, a drone attack killed top
al-Qaida official Ahmed Salama Mabrouk.

The United States and Britain on Sunday
acknowledged the Western world's weak
support for any military action against
Syria's government as they seek ways to
pressure Syrian President Bashar Assad
and his chief backer, Russia, to halt the
deadly Aleppo offensive.
After a meeting of 11 governments
opposing Assad's rule, U.S. Secretary of
State John Kerry and British Foreign
Secretary Boris Johnson each insisted that
all options were on the table. But their
stark explanations about the danger of
resorting to military force appeared to rule
out such a move.

The government in Damascus, meanwhile,
appears to be trying to improve relations
with Egypt, the Arab world's most populous
nation, following the first public meeting
between Egyptian and Syrian security
chiefs.

Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk, head of the
National Security Bureau and one of
Assad's top aides, visited Cairo Sunday at
the head of a delegation to coordinate with
Egypt in the fight against "terrorism" in the
region, Syria's state-run news agency
SANA said.

SANA said the Syrians met with top
intelligence officials, including deputy chief
of Egypt's intelligence agency. It said both
sides agreed on "coordinating political
standpoints" and strengthening the
"cooperation in fighting terrorism." Egypt's
pro-government Sada al-Balad and other
news websites reported on Sunday that six
Syrians arrived on a private jet from
Damascus.
Earlier this month, Egypt voted for rival
French and Russian draft resolutions on
Syria at the U.N. Security Council, arguing
that both called for a truce and for aid for
besieged Syrians in the rebel-held areas of
the northern city of Aleppo.

The move angered Egypt's major financier
Saudi Arabia, which supports rebels
fighting against Assad's Moscow-backed
government.

Egypt and Syria are both fighting
extremists, including members of the
Islamic State group. Both countries also
have poor relations with Turkey's
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.