Russia agreed Thursday to extend daily pauses in fighting in rebel-held areas of eastern Aleppo until Monday, the United Nations said, according to a media report.
Special Adviser to the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Jan Egeland told The Associated Press over the phone that the U.N. received verbal assurances for the extension from Russia’s diplomatic mission in Geneva and in writing from Russian military officials in Syria.
He said that Moscow said the pauses would be extended from eight hours to 11 hours per day, adding that the U.N. “have a window from Friday at least until Monday.”
It came as the Syrian government urged civilians in the rebel-held areas to leave and called for militants to down their weapons as the pause, aimed at allowing civilians and militants to leave the area, came into effect Thursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been meeting in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday that Putin told his counterparts that the pause extension is "possible and desirable, but not if this pause is used for strengthening, rearming and re-equipping terrorists," Russian news agency Tass reported.
"In that case, of course, the extension of the pause will be quite problematic," Peskov added.
Loudspeaker announcements called for residents in eastern Aleppo to let the sick and wounded leave first and for militants to down their guns, saying: “The battle for returning Aleppo to the nation’s fold is in its last phases. There is no point in continuing the fight,” the AP reported.
Amnesty International called Thursday for the U.N. General Assembly to do something to stop the Syrian government from bombing civilians in eastern Aleppo, ahead of a meeting of the assembly.
The humanitarian organization said new satellite imagery showed the scale of the destruction and that it had evidence that “Syrian government forces, with Russian support, have callously attacked residential homes, medical facilities, schools, markets and mosques as part of a deliberate military strategy to empty the city of its inhabitants and seize control.”