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Aleppo: Truce enters third day but UN delays evacuations

UN says it has not been guaranteed security if it enters the besieged city [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 October, 2016

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A "humanitarian pause" in Aleppo has largely held since Thursday but the UN said the security guarantees needed to mobilise evacuations had not yet been provided
Concerns for safety in Syria's Aleppo have forced the UN to delay medical evacuations, as a pause in fighting extends to a third day.

The Syrian government has halted its Russian-backed assault on rebel-held east Aleppo until 4pm GMT on Saturday.

However a four-day plan to move hundreds of critically wounded and sick people to regime-held western Aleppo, rebel-controlled Idlib or Turkey, and deliver aid for the first time since July, has been put on hold.

"Medical evacuations of sick and injured could unfortunately not begin as planned because the necessary conditions were not in place," said Jens Laerke of the UN's humanitarian office OCHA.

Russia announced a brief halt in airstrikes from Tuesday and then a unilateral "humanitarian pause" from Thursday.

The Syrian army says it has opened eight corridors across the frontline for the more than 250,000 besieged civilians in rebel areas to leave so that its offensive can focus on former al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham and the recapture of east Aleppo.

On Saturday, the regime dropped leaflets giving residents
"leave or die" ultimatum.

But so far almost none have taken up the offer.

"There has been no movement in the corridors in the eastern district. For the moment, we haven't seen any movement of residents or fighters," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

Damascus and Moscow have accused opposition fighters of preventing evacuations.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said fighters were using "threats, blackmail and brute force" to prevent civilians and rebels evacuating.

Since the launch of the offensive to retake the whole city began on September 22, nearly 500 people have been killed, more than a quarter of them children. More than 2,000 civilians have been wounded.

Moscow has shown no sign of winding down its intervention, despite criticism of the civilian death toll and allegations of war crimes.

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