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Iran Press TV

Militants shell 'humanitarian' Syria corridor as truce begins

Iran Press TV

Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:29AM

Clashes have broken out in Aleppo shortly after a unilateral Syrian ceasefire went into effect on Thursday to allow civilians and foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants to leave the eastern part of the city.

Artillery shells were fired at "humanitarian corridors" which the army opened in two designated areas in the Bustan al-Qasr quarter and near the Castello road in northern Aleppo city, reports said.

Syria's official news agency SANA blamed "terrorist groups" which have accused the government of emptying militant-held areas of civilians so it can take over the whole city.

State-owned Ikhbariyah television said terrorists had fired a barrage of mortars near where ambulances had been heading to take patients from the besieged parts of the city for treatment in government-held areas.

The humanitarian pause took effect at 8 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) on Thursday and will expire at 7 p.m. (1600 GMT). The Syrian army has said the pause in its military offensive will last three days.

Russian military officials said six corridors had been opened for civilians and humanitarian aid deliveries, while two others have been meant for militants.

One of the corridors is in the direction of the Turkey-Syria border which terrorists use for shipment of arms and militants, while the other leads to the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib southwest of Aleppo.

Russian and Syrian aircraft stopped bombing militant-held neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo on Tuesday, two days ahead of the truce. Russia said the jets have been deployed to an area at least 10 kilometers away from Aleppo.

The United Nations, however, has argued that the temporary truce was not long enough to provide any relief supplies.

Russia ready to extend truce

In Berlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted at the possibility of extending the humanitarian truce in Aleppo, stating that Moscow was ready to take such a step.

"We have made clear our intention to extend as far as possible, depending on the current situation on the ground, the halt in our airstrikes," he said on Wednesday.

"We are ready to do this for as long as there are no clashes with rebel formations entrenched in Aleppo," he said following a meeting with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The militants, however, say they are preparing a large-scale offensive to break the siege of Aleppo and that the Russian air force has failed.

"The coming battle is not going to be like others. We are waiting for the signal of the start of a decisive battle which will surprise the regime and its militias," said Abu Obeida al-Ansari, a commander from al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front.

The group has been rebranded as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, with Russian and Syrian officials saying the US is supporting the group and refusing to separate its members from what Washington regards as "moderate" militants.

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