Pause in Aleppo Air War Enters 2nd Day

Pause in Aleppo Air War Enters 2nd DayPause in Aleppo Air War Enters 2nd Day

A pause in Russian and Syrian government airstrikes on militant-held areas of Aleppo held for a second day on Wednesday, although ground fighting continued in the historic Old City, a monitor said.

Despite skepticism voiced by Washington, 24 hours after the start, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there had been no airstrikes on militant-held east Aleppo, which had been heavily bombed since the army launched an offensive to recapture it on September 22, France24 reported.

“There have been no air raids from yesterday morning until now,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Moscow said the lull was intended to give the more than 250,000 civilians trapped in east Aleppo time to prepare to leave the city during the eight-hour ceasefire announced for Thursday. Government forces, which have kept militant areas under near-continuous siege since mid-July, have said they will open six corridors for the safe passage of fleeing civilians.

The ceasefire is scheduled to begin at 0500 GMT on Thursday.

On Wednesday, troops pressed their ground assault in the Old City as they vied to push back the frontline in the heart of Aleppo that has remained largely static since the militants seized the east in 2012.

Ibrahim Abu al-Leith, a spokesman for the White Helmets rescue force in Aleppo, said there were no planes circling above but artillery and rocket fire continued.

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are to meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Berlin later on Wednesday to discuss the ceasefire plans.

The United Nations has welcomed Russia’s announcement, but has said that it is waiting for safety assurances from all sides before entering Aleppo to deliver relief supplies and evacuate wounded civilians.

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