After the latest news of horrible civilian carnage in Aleppo, Syria, including an airstrike that killed 20 members of the same family, Russia has announced it will temporarily suspend airstrikes. The move has been presented as an opportunity for rebel forces to pull out of the city, but the rebels refuse to leave.
CNN quotes Russian General Sergey Rudskoy announcing the bombing pause will be brief, just eight hours on Thursday, beginning at 8:00 A.M., which the United Nations dismissed as insufficient time for serious humanitarian operations. However, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that air operations would begin ramping down on Wednesday.
Rudskoy also announced that “six corridors will be opened for the passage of civilians” and for rebel forces to “evacuate the sick and wounded.”
“We’re calling on the leadership of the countries who have influence on the armed groups in the eastern part of Aleppo with a proposal to convince their leaders to stop military actions and leave the city. Anyone who is really interested in the early stabilization of the situation in the city of Aleppo needs to embark on real political steps and not continue shuffling political papers,” said the Russian Defense Ministry in a statement.
“This is an obvious continuation of Russian efforts, on the one hand, to fight terrorists in Syria, and on the other, to unblock the situation in Aleppo. It is exclusively a manifestation of goodwill by the Russian military,” proclaimed Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
The U.N. Security Council attempted to pass a resolution to stop the bombing on a more long-term basis and allow humanitarian aid into Aleppo over the weekend, but Russia vetoed it.
The United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, warned from Luxembourg on Monday that “between now and December, if we cannot find a solution, Aleppo will not be there anymore.”
“Any type of discussion that ignores Aleppo would be something that history will judge us for. Mosul should not be confusing the priority of Aleppo. In other words, if the world is watching Mosul, Aleppo should not be forgotten,” de Mistura added, referring to the massive operation now under way to eject the Islamic State from its stronghold in Iraq.