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Temporary ceasefire goes into effect in Syria's Aleppo

Activists have reported calm as a Russian-announced "humanitarian pause" has taken effect in Aleppo. The 10-hour truce has been criticized by Germany's foreign minister as being too short.

Another temporary truce in the divided northern Syrian city of Aleppo went into effect on Friday at 9 a.m. local time (0700 UTC) and is set to last for 10 hours.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it recorded no major military action by either Syrian and Russian forces or by the opposition during the first few hours of the ceasefire.

It is the second so-called "humanitarian pause" to be declared by Russia and the Syrian government. The halt in fighting is intended to allow civilians and surrendering rebels in the opposition-controlled eastern part of the city to leave through secure passages.

Expectations on Friday were low that many rebels and civilians would evacuate the city using the eight established passages, with two reserved for fighters.

People had yet to use the routes within the first hours of the truce, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Only a few people left through the corridors during a previous three-day unilateral ceasefire last month. Moscow and Damascus accused rebels at the time of preventing people from evacuating while civilians in east Aleppo expressed fear of crossing into government-held territory.

Steinmeier: Ceasefire not long enough

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier criticized the length of the truce on Thursday after a meeting with Raid Hijab, the head of the Syrian opposition's High Negotiations Committee.

"It is neither enough time to evacuate the sick and severely injured nor to bring in the missing humanitarian aid for the citizens of Aleppo," Steinmeier said.

He also emphasized the importance of ensuring that the upcoming US elections and ensuing change of leadership does not result in a vacuum in Syria, adding that "we now urgently need a new impetus for talks between Moscow and Washington, but also the regional actors."

Rebel forces launched a major assault last week to break the Russia-backed siege of Aleppo but were met with fierce resistance from Syrian government forces.

The United Nations estimates around 275,000 people are trapped in the eastern part of the city. Residents reported a decline in supplies of basic goods, including water, food, electricity and medicine.

rs/sms (AP, AFP, dpa)

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