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President Vladimir Putin has ordered a 10-hour truce on Friday in the war-ravaged Syrian city of Aleppo, the Russian defence ministry said.

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“We took a decision to introduce a ‘humanitarian pause’ in Aleppo on November 4 from 9:00 am (0600 GMT) to 19:00,” the chief of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov said in a statement on Wednesday.

Gerasimov said the Syrian authorities approved the decision. He said the decision was to “prevent senseless casualties” by allowing civilians and armed combatants to quit rebel-held eastern Aleppo.

He said they would set up eight corridors — six for civilians and two for fighters — for this purpose.

Rebels launched a major assault Friday to break the siege of Aleppo but met fierce resistance from regime forces this week.

Some of the worst violenc has hit Aleppo since Syria’s five-year conflict began. This has turned the once bustling economic hub into a divided and bombed-out city.

Defence ministry Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that Russia had ceased air strikes on eastern Aleppo for 16 days. This follows criticism over a Russian-backed Syrian government assault that has killed hundreds of civilians and destroyed infrastructure, including hospitals.

Moscow initially halted the bombing ahead of a short ceasefire that ended last month. Moscow at the time ruled out a truce extension.

US and Russia trade allegations

Shoigu accused the US-led coalition of failing to rein in hard-line rebels. It also claims that the chances of a political settlement to the crisis was now remote.

The West has accused Moscow of committing possible war crimes in Aleppo. It accused Moscow of indiscriminate bombing to support a brutal Syrian government offensive.

Moscow has been conducting a bombing campaign in Syria in support of long-time ally Bashar Al-Assad since September 2015.

More than 300,000 people have been killed since Syria’s war degenerated from a widespread protest movement against Assad’s rule in March 2011. It is now a multi-front war between rebels, jihadists, Kurds and regime forces.

AFP