Bombing lull by Syrian government brings calm to Aleppo

Damascus, Oct 6 (IANS) A relative calm reigned over the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo on Thursday after the government announced a reduction in bombings, a British monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said no airstrikes or mortar shelling were registered in eastern Aleppo since President Bashar al-Assad’s forces announced a temporary humanitarian reduction in violence, Efe news reported.

However, some artillery rounds were reported in the early hours of the morning in certain rebel-held neighbourhoods.

There were reports of clashes between Syrian Army soldiers and armed opposition factions — some of which were Islamist — in the historic quarter of the city.

The Syrian government released a statement on Wednesday explaining that they would reduce bombing campaigns against “terrorist positions” so that civilians could evacuate blockaded districts of Aleppo.

On September 22, with the support of Russian aerial bombardment, the government troops embarked on an offensive to retake Aleppo neighbourhoods under rebel opposition control.

According to SOHR, 456 civilians have died since the collapse of an internationally-brokered humanitarian ceasefire on September 19.

In northern Idlib province near the Turkish border, 20 Turkish-backed Syrian rebels were killed when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt at a checkpoint.

The rebel troops were part of Ankara’s ‘Operation Euphrates Shield,’ a military offensive that seeks to regain control a swathe of the Turkey-Syria borderland from the Islamic State and Kurdish militias, both regarded as terrorists by Turkey.

Assad receives the support of Russia, Iran and the Lebanese Shiite militia group Hezbollah while ‘moderate’ opposition and Kurdish groups benefit from US-led coalition airstrikes and Turkish military advice.

The UN estimated that over 400,000 persons have lost their lives in the five-year-old civil war.