Aleppo corridors still open

2016-10-25 16:54
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Beirut - Russia's Defence Ministry said on Tuesday it was keeping humanitarian corridors out of Syria's Aleppo open following accusations by the UN humanitarian chief that warring parties were obstructing medical evacuations from the eastern, rebel-held districts of the city.

Defense Ministry spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov said six humanitarian corridors out of eastern Aleppo continue to function "around the clock."

Russian and Syrian warplanes, he added, "are not approaching the city and are not carrying out attacks." A total of 48 women and children left eastern Aleppo the previous evening, Konashenkov also said.

Those evacuations could not be independently confirmed. The UN has estimated that 275 000 people are trapped by the Syrian government's siege of the rebel-held eastern parts of the contested city.

Fighting resumed in Aleppo over the weekend, with pro-government forces mounting several assaults along the city's front lines after a three-day pause in military operations last week. The attacks have been accompanied by Russian air strikes.

But in contrast to the sweeping bombardment that devastated eastern Aleppo before the pause, clashes this week have been largely confined to the front lines, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group that tracks the civil war in Syria.

Airstrikes on residential districts have decreased since Tuesday, according to a spokesman for the local Civil Defence search-and-rescue group, when the Russian and Syrian militaries announced they would open safe corridors for civilians and militants out of the east. The spokesperson, Ibrahim al-Haj, noted that shelling has not let up.

On Monday, pro-government forces seized a strategic hilltop overlooking the city's southern outskirts, only hours after Aleppo rebels boasted an offensive to break the government's siege was "hours away".

The government's new position on the Bazo hilltop would complicate any rebel push, according to the Observatory's chief, Rami Abdurrahman.

Ammar Sakkar, a military spokesperson of the powerful Fastaqim rebel militia in Aleppo, denied the government advance was a setback for rebels and said huge preparations were underway for an "epic" battle in Aleppo.

Read more on:    russia  |  syria

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