Fierce clashes in Aleppo despite Russian ceasefire announcement

Fierce clashes in Aleppo despite Russian ceasefire announcement

Syrian rebels and Assad regime forces have clashed in southern Aleppo, including during the period of a promised Russian lull to allow humanitarian convoys in, according to media reports.

Russian military announced on Wednesday a three-hour daily temporary halt to airstrikes in Aleppo to “allow humanitarian aid convoys in”. The United Nations’ response was that this interval is not even long enough to help trapped civilians.

“There will be humanitarian windows established from 1000 to 1300 local time starting from tomorrow, during which all military hostilities, aviation airstrikes and artillery strikes, will be halted,” Sergei Rudskoy, a Lieutenant General in the Russian general staff, told journalists.

The aim of the humanitarian windows, according to Rudskoy, is to guarantee the total security of the humanitarian aid convoys heading to Aleppo.

Trucks carrying food were unable to enter Aleppo on Thursday because of intense bombardment, the AFP news agency reported from the rebel-held east of the city where private vendors managed to deliver fresh produce.

Syrian state news agency said army troops seized territory south of Aleppo on Thursday, adding that rebel fire killed four civilians in a government-held district. But it made no mention of the “humanitarian windows” announced by Russia.

Human Rights Watch said on Thursday it had documented six strikes by regime or Russian warplanes on health facilities in the north that killed 17 people in the past two weeks.

“With heavy bombing continuing relentlessly in Aleppo especially, hospitals and clinics need to be treated as the sacred life-saving places they are, not as additional bombing targets,” said deputy Middle East director Nadim Houry.

Fifteen of the only remaining doctors in the eastern half implored US President Barack Obama on Thursday to protect civilians from atrocities in their city.

“Unless a permanent lifeline to Aleppo is opened it will be only a matter of time until we are again surrounded by regime troops, hunger takes hold and hospitals’ supplies run completely dry,” the letter said.

“We do not need tears or sympathy or even prayers, we need your action. Prove that you are the friend of Syrians,” they wrote.