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Moscow agrees to UN’s plea for 48-hour aid access but not willing to go back to weekly truces in battered city.
Almost 2 million people in Aleppo have been without running water for nearly two weeks [Reuters]
- Russia says it wouldsupport a 48-hour ceasefirefrom next week
- UN’s de Mistura says aidtrucks are “ready to move”
- Western diplomats: “Mustbe UN-run operation”
Russia has said it would support a 48-hour ceasefire inSyria’s Aleppo, a move the United Nations envoy saidwould allow aid to reach besieged areas soon, as long asall sides respected the truce.
As viral images of a dazed child pulled from rubble in theheavily bombarded rebel-held east of the city captured theplight of its civilians and drew the attention of the world,Moscow said it was ready to start the first “humanitarianpause” next week.
Western diplomats gave a cautious welcome to theannouncement, but stressed that the UN must be incharge of a sustained aid operation.
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura has long called for a 48-hour halt in fighting each weekto allow aid delivery and medical evacuations from both rebel-held eastern andgovernment-controlled western Aleppo.
“The Russian defence ministry has laid out several conditions for a weekly 48-hourpause in fighting,” said Al Jazeera’s Reza Sayah, reporting from the Gaziantep on theTurkish-Syrian border.
“It says it’s willing to support the plan as a ‘pilot programme’ for the city of Aleppoonly. That suggests Russia is not ready to back an indefinite weekly pause in violence.It also suggests there’s plenty for all sides to negotiate before the plan goes intoeffect.”
De Mistura welcomed the Russian defence ministry announcement and said a UNhumanitarian team was “now set to mobilise itself to respond to this challenge”.
“Our plan is to collectively work out the operational details, and be ready for deliveryas soon as possible,” de Mistura’s office said in a statement.