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Russia has stopped bombing Aleppo - but for how long?

Russian and Syrian air forces have stopped bombing Aleppo as of 7am this morning, Russia’s defence minister said.

Mideast Syria War Q&A (File photo) A Syrian man carries his sister who was wounded in a government airstrike hit the neighbourhood of Ansari, in Aleppo, Syria. AP Photo / Abdullah al-Yassin, File AP Photo / Abdullah al-Yassin, File / Abdullah al-Yassin, File

THE RUSSIAN AND Syrian air forces have stopped bombing Aleppo as of 7am this morning, Russia’s defence minister said, in a move he said was meant to pave the way for an eight-hour truce on 20 October.

“Strikes in the Aleppo region by the Russian and Syrian air forces are stopping today starting at 10am (local time),” Sergei Shoigu said in a televised briefing.

“The early cessation of air strikes is necessary to introduce a ‘humanitarian pause’ on 20 October.

This guarantees the security of civilians’ exit through six corridors and prepares the evacuation of the sick and injured from eastern Aleppo.

Russia’s defence ministry said on Monday that its forces and the Syrian regime would halt fire in Aleppo on Thursday for eight hours amid mounting criticism of the Moscow-led assault on Syria’s second city.

Today, Shoigu called on countries that “have influence on armed groups in eastern Aleppo” to convince group leaders to cease hostilities and leave the city.

Russia Syria Lt General Sergei Rudskoi of Russian military's General Staff at a briefing on 13 October in Moscow. He denied targeting civilian areas. Ivan Sekretarev / PA Ivan Sekretarev / PA / PA

Al-Nusra Front

Shoigu said the initiative could “contribute to the success” of international military talks in Geneva tomorrow on efforts to distance Syrian opposition fighters from jihadist group Fateh al-Sham Front, which changed its name from Al-Nusra Front after renouncing its ties to Al-Qaeda.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said on Monday that Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have agreed to take part in talks on distancing rebels from the Syrian jihadist group.

Russia has repeatedly demanded that the Syrian rebels break off from Fateh al-Sham Front, which the United Nations considers a terrorist group, as a condition to revive a ceasefire in Aleppo.

The brutal government offensive against rebel-held eastern Aleppo backed by Russian airpower has plunged Syria into some of the worst violence since the conflict erupted in March 2011.

The West has accused Moscow and Damascus of committing potential war crimes in their offensive on the city.

- © AFP, 2016

Read: A city on the brink of destruction: Can anything save Aleppo?

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