Russia declares 48-hour ceasefire in Aleppo as rebels achieve new victories

Russia declares 48-hour ceasefire in Aleppo as rebels achieve new victories

On Moscow’s initiative, a two-day “regime of calm” was introduced in Syria’s largest city of Aleppo, beginning from Thursday, the Russian defense ministry said.

The Russian defence ministry said the “regime of calm”, which went into effect at midnight, was an effort to stabilise the situation in the war-torn city.

The Russian defence ministry statement issued late on Wednesday said the regime of calm had been introduced in Aleppo “with the goal of lowering the level of armed violence and stabilising the situation”.

The ministry did not say if any other parties to the conflict had been consulted.

Speaking to reporters in St Petersburg on Thursday morning, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov was asked if the Aleppo truce could become a long-term ceasefire.

“We call for this,” he was quoted as saying by Russia’s Tass news agency.

Mr Bogdanov also urged Syrian government and opposition representatives to resume UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva, which broke down in April as the fighting around Aleppo escalated.

“Those who sought a political settlement should promptly resume the intra-Syrian dialogue, too,” he said.

Hundreds of people have been killed in the divided city in recent months.

Russian airstrikes have supported an attempt by Assad regime’s forces to encircle rebel-held western areas, and were responsible for extreme damage and hundreds of deaths in Aleppo city.

US warning and rebels advancement

The announcement of the truce came shortly after US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the truce was “frayed and at risk”, mainly because of violations by government forces.

On Wednesday, the US said the government’s offensive was violating a nationwide cessation of hostilities brokered by the US and Russia in February.

“Russia needs to understand that our patience is not infinite, in fact it is very limited,” he said.

“We have made it very clear that unless we get a better definition of how this cessation is going to work we are not going to sit there while Assad continues to assault Aleppo and while Russia continues to support that effort.”

Syrian activists mentioned that the ceasefire announcement came after the Assad regime with its Russian and Iranian allies failed to achieve their goal in Aleppo, as they had huge losses in Aleppo battlefield while the rebels were able to advance in southern Aleppo.

US and Russia brokered a ceasefire agreement in Syria that started on February 27 and led to starting a new round of Syria peace talks, but Assad regime breaches and crimes against Syrian civilians, especially in Aleppo, led to ceasefire’s ending and collapsing peace talks in Geneva.