Russia extends Aleppo humanitarian pause to 11 hours
MOSCOW - Russia said Wednesday it was extending an eight-hour truce in Aleppo, which is planned for Thursday, to 11 hours to allow civilians and rebels to leave the city's rebel-held east.
The humanitarian pause, which was to run from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm (0500 GMT to 1300 GMT), has been extended "by three hours until 7:00 pm (1600 GMT)," senior military official Sergei Rudskoi said at a briefing at the defence ministry in Moscow.
He said this was done after "numerous requests" from representatives of international aid organisations.
The extra time "will allow representatives of the United Nations and the Syrian Red Crescent to carry out all their operations to ensure the evacuation of the sick and wounded, and also to allow peaceful civilians out of the city," the military spokesman said.
The UN on Wednesday said that all sides needed to back an extended ceasefire -- at least 48 hours -- before humanitarian convoys could roll.
Moscow announced on Tuesday morning that Russian and Syrian air forces had stopped bombing Aleppo ahead of the pause in fighting and the halt held into a second day on Wednesday.
According to Moscow, once the pause begins six corridors out of the city will open for civilians with another two -- via the Castello Road in the north and Souk al-Hal in the city centre -- designated for rebels.
Rudskoi also said Russian and Syrian planes were keeping 10 kilometres (six miles) from Aleppo after Moscow pledged Tuesday to stop bombing the city ahead of the truce.
"Since 10 am yesterday in the area of Aleppo air strikes by Russia and Syrian forces have completely ceased. Russian and Syrian planes are not getting closer than 10 kilometres to the city," Rudskoi said.