Syria: Russia and UN to work on ‘humanitarian pause’ in besieged Aleppo

Russia has agreed to sit down with the United Nations to try to agree a “workable humanitarian pause” in fighting in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo. The UN confirmed the talks hours after a three-hour daily ceasefire, announced by Russia to allow humanitarian and aid deliveries in the city, reportedly failed to take effect. Violations of the Russian proposal, due to come into force on Thursday morning, were reported on both sides. Moscow’s call for the daily three-hour halt in fighting was greeted with scepticism by rebel forces, while the United Nations warned that the pause was not long enough to ease the humanitarian crisis faced by hundreds of thousands of civilians in the city.

What is the new and positive thing today is that the Russian Federation said they would like to sit down with us and the other co-chair (the United States) to discuss how the UN proposal could be implemented. We are hopeful that will lead to something.

UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland

UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said that a 48-hour pause each week was required to ensure the safe delivery of aid, adding that he was “hopeful” Russia would consider this proposal. Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city before the war, is the subject of a bitter fight between various rebel forces and Russian-backed government forces. Last week, rebels broke a month-long government siege in the city’s east, where an estimated 250,000 people are believed to be trapped. Fierce fighting continues, however, meaning a safe corridor for civilians and aid has not yet been established. On Thursday, reports claimed at least four people have been killed in a suspected chlorine gas attack in the east of the city. The gas is believed to have been dropped alongside barrel bombs on the Zubdiya neighbourhood, which is in the rebel-held part of Aleppo.