Syria Conflict: Aleppo included in truce

Edited by Nelly Tawil

Syria has finally given in to the persuasions of Russia and the US on Tuesday and extended the fragile truce to the divided city of Aleppo as reported by United States officials and Syrian state television.

The agreement took effect on Wednesday at 12:01am Damascus time, Secretary of State John Kerry stated. The details of the truce still remain sketchy, leaving the public unsure of whether any new conditions have been imposed on the Syrian government, insurgents or their international backers.

A discrepancy occurred when the Syrian military confirmed the truce yet stated that it would take effect at 1:00am Thursday and last 48 hours. US officials say they are looking into the matter. No statements were made to shed light on the disagreement between the United States, which backs insurgents, and Russia, ally of the Syrian government.

The suggested truce came as the UN humanitarian chief informed those at an emergency meeting of the Security Council that hundreds of civilians have perished or sustained injuries in indiscriminate attacks over the past 10 days in “the carnage in Aleppo”.

On Wednesday Stephen O’Brian said that life in the northern Syrian city “is horrendous and has lost all sense,” casting blame on all parties for the death and destruction that befell the city.

Aleppo, once the largest city in Syria before the conflict, is a crucial battleground divided between government-controlled and opposition-held territory. Since the renewed fighting escalated in the area so too has the death toll which is now made up of roughly 300 people, mostly civilians after government airstrikes pummelled the rebel section and rebels shelling the other side.

The two-month cease-fire was thoroughly shattered as a result of the intensified violence and although the temporary respite tamped down the death toll in Syria, the country’s sixth year of war still has a grim outlook as the violence never ended entirely.

This all came as Russia and the US exchanged sharp disagreements over what constituted a violation. The Nusra Front and the Islamic State were excluded from the deal.

State Department spokesman Mark C. Toner announced in a statement that after an agreement on Friday to restore a truce in the Damascus suburbs and in the northern province of Latakia, Russia concluded arrangements late Tuesday “to extend this effort to Aleppo Province, including Aleppo city and its surrounding areas.”

“Since this went into effect today at 00:01 in Damascus, we have seen an overall decrease in violence in these areas, even though there have been reports of continued fighting in some locations,” Mr. Toner said.

Appearing before the Security Council, the United Nations’ top relief official Stephen O’Brien, chronicled attacks on an ambulance, two hospitals and two United Nations-supported primary health centres in the last two weeks. He singled out the Syrian government for denying permits to health workers to immunize children.