Syria rebels renew Aleppo attack before Russian Federation ceasefire

Tracy FergusonNov 07, 2016

The latest pause comes less than a month after Moscow declared an unproductive three-day ceasefire in late October.

Russia's offer of a 10-hour "humanitarian pause", announced earlier this week, has raised speculation that a major offensive may be planned once the pause expires on Friday evening.

Syrian rebels have tried to break the regime's siege of opposition-held eastern Aleppo, which has been choked off from food, fuel and other necessities.

Ismail said prospects for a deal with rebels looked bleak, and he expected military action to resume if no one left on Friday.

The government and its Russian allies say they target only militants, and that fighters are to blame for civilian casualties by operating in civilian areas.

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The city has been divided between the government-held western sector and rebel-held east for years.

Rebels have renewed their bid to break a government siege of eastern Aleppo.

By midday, however, the Observatory said no one had used the corridors.

According to Syrian state media and a human rights monitor, rebel groups detonated three auto bombs near pro-government forces on the city's western edge.

"The UN will not be involved in any way in the evacuation of civilians from east Aleppo related to this announcement", said David Swanson, a spokesman for the UN humanitarian office. Rebels say the aim is to drive out civilians, some 275,000 of whom remain in the besieged zone.

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Zakaria Molahfiji, a commander in the Fastaqim opposition group in Aleppo, said "We reject this [ceasefire] completely", adding that no such humanitarian corridors existed, indicating that the opposition felt that the regime and its Russian backers were trying to deceive them.

The clashes on Aleppo's western outskirts could be heard in the city's eastern districts, an AFP correspondent there said.

The two Russians were slightly wounded during the shelling, and they were evacuated, but their lives were not in danger, the Russian Defense Ministry said. "We don't trust the Russians or any of their cheap initiatives", said Yasser al-Youssef, a politburo member of the Nureddin al-Zinki rebel brigade in Aleppo.

Rocket fire on government-held districts killed at least 12 people, state media said.

Russian president Vladimir Putin, Assad's ally, has been carrying out air strikes in support, leading to accusations from the West that Moscow is committing war crimes.

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A Russian lawmaker on Thursday told the private Russian news agency Interfax that a "purge" of the eastern part of the city would begin if the pause produced no results. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation expects them to be used against civilians in eastern Aleppo.

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