Truce in Syria’s Aleppo extended for 72 hours
The extended pause in fighting for Aleppo comes as international condemnation mounted over deadly air strikes on a camp for displaced people in northern Syria, which the regime and its Russian ally have denied responsibility for.
Russia’s defence ministry said the fragile ceasefire had been extended “in order to prevent the situation from worsening” just minutes before the initial 48-hour truce for the city was due to expire.
“The regime of silence in the province of Latakia and in the city of Aleppo has been extended from 00:01 (local time) on May 7 (2200 GMT Friday) for 72 hours,” the defence ministry said in a statement.
The United States — which has been working with Moscow to pressure the regime to stop the violence and revive a landmark nationwide ceasefire agreed in February — also confirmed the extension.
“While we welcome this recent extension, our goal is to get to a point where we no longer have to count the hours and that the cessation of hostilities is fully respected across Syria,” said State Department spokesman John Kirby.
The international community hopes that a drop in fighting can galvanise faltering peace talks to end a five-year war that has killed more than 270,000 people and displaced millions.
Calm returned to the streets of Aleppo after the ceasefire first came into force at midnight on Thursday, giving residents some respite from two weeks of fighting that killed more than 280 civilians.
But south of the city, clashes between regime forces and jihadists and their allies have killed more than 70 on both sides, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday.
Al-Nusra and allied Islamists seized Khan Tuman and surrounding villages in less than 24 hours, according to the Britain-based monitor, after pro-regime troops had driven them out in December.