Russia says opening humanitarian corridors around Aleppo

Russia said on Thursday it had launched a "large-scale humanitarian operation" together with the Syrian government around the battered city of Aleppo to open humanitarian corridors for civilians and fleeing fighters. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told Russian news agencies that three humanitarian corridors were being opened "to aid civilians held hostage by terrorists and for fighters...

al-monitor Syrian rescue workers clear rubble in the war-shattered city of Aleppo on July 26, 2016 Photo by Karam al-Masri/AFP/File.

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Jul 28, 2016

Russia said on Thursday it had launched a "large-scale humanitarian operation" together with the Syrian government around the battered city of Aleppo to open humanitarian corridors for civilians and fleeing fighters.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told Russian news agencies that three humanitarian corridors were being opened "to aid civilians held hostage by terrorists and for fighters wishing to lay down their arms" and one more corridor to the north of the city for rebels to flee with their weapons.

Opposition neighbourhoods of Aleppo have been effectively besieged by regime forces backed up by Russian air power since July 7, when government troops advanced to within firing range of the sole remaining supply route into the east.

"We repeatedly urged the opposing sides to move towards peace but every time the rebels broke the truce by firing at civilian areas and attacking government troops. As a result a difficult humanitarian situation developed in the city of Aleppo and around," Shoigu said.

President Vladimir Putin has therefore ordered Russian forces backing up troops loyal to Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad to launch the "large-scale humanitarian operation" along with the Syrian regime.

Medical posts and food handouts would be provided along the three corridors intended for civilians and fighters who have put down their weapons, Shoigu said.

Shoigu appealed to the government of Syria to offer amnesty to the fleeing fighters and state media reported that Assad immediately agreed to this.

Once Syria's economic powerhouse, Aleppo has been roughly divided between rebel control in the east and government control in the west since mid-2012.

More than 280,000 peop

le have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests that were met with a brutal regime crackdown.