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Russian Federation says pausing Aleppo bombing 11 hours for four days

21 October 2016

Syria's government opened two crossings for fighters who want to leave the rebel-held eastern part of the contested city of Aleppo, a day after announcing a three-day humanitarian pause to its offensive.

Putin, visiting Berlin on Wednesday evening, was told by French President Francois Hollande that joint Syrian and Russian bombing of Aleppo was a "war crime".

United Nations humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said he hoped the first of "several hundred" sick and wounded would be brought out on Friday to either government-held western Aleppo or terrorist-held Idlib, according to their choice.

To the rebels, the army broadcaster said: "Drop your weapons, this is your last chance".

"At 4:19 a.m. both Belgian planes carried out refueling from the KC-135 tanker plane and then performed an air patrol mission in the area of Azaz, north of Aleppo", said Konashenkov.

Secretary of State John Kerry warned Wednesday that the devastating Russian and Syrian bombardment of rebel-held eastern Aleppo would not bring peace and instead prompt rebels to seek revenge.

Ahead of the talks in Berlin, Moscow announced it would prolong the truce from eight to 11 hours, and said Syrian and Russian warplanes were giving Aleppo a wide berth.

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The European leaders also vowed to keep up the pressure, warning of possible sanctions.

The threat appears to target Russian Federation, which Western leaders have criticized for its support of a military offensive by Syrian government forces on the northern city of Aleppo.

European Union leaders due to meet at a summit in Brussels Thursday were expected to jointly condemn Moscow for past air raids on Aleppo, according to a draft statement obtained by AFP.

The regime's SANA news agency blamed the opposition groups.

Syria analyst Thomas Pierret, of the University of Edinburgh, said the halt in Russian air strikes was about Moscow "managing worldwide pressure".

She alleged that Turkey is taking advantage of Washington's preoccupation with presidential elections next month to impose its plans in Syria, including pushing back the Kurds and advancing in Aleppo.

Five years of diplomatic effort have failed to put an end to Syria's conflagration. The city has been besieged by the Syrian government troops, with Russian air support.