Calm prevails in Syria’s Aleppo city as truce extended

Damascus, May 7 (IANS) Calm prevailed in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo for the second day, following 14 days of bloodshed, a monitor group reported on Saturday.

The situation in Aleppo remained largely calm since after midnight Wednesday, when a US-Russian-backed truce, or “regime of silence,” went into effect, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The “cautious calm” was interrupted due to some mortar shelling by the rebels on government-controlled areas and Syrian air strikes against rebel-held areas, according to the UK-based watchdog group.

On Thursday, a 48-hour truce went into effect in Aleppo city, and on Friday, the Russian base of Hmaimim in Syria’s northwestern city of Latakia announced the extension of the truce for an additional 72 hours, reported Xinhua news agency.

The truce came following strenuous efforts by Russia and the United States to establish a ceasefire in Aleppo, whose districts have seen heavy bloodletting by the rebels’ shelling on government-controlled areas, and the counter military offensives on rebel-held districts in the eastern part of the city.

The Observatory, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, said a total of 286 civilians, including 95 children and women, have been killed since 14 days ago when violence flared up in Aleppo.

The al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and like-minded groups unleashed a widescale offensive on government-controlled areas two weeks ago, prompting the Syrian army to respond.

But as the Nusra was not included in the truce because it has been branded as a terrorist organisation by the United Nations, the terror group unleashed an offensive on the town of Khan Tuman in southern Aleppo over the past two days, succeeding eventually in taking control of the town.

Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city and once an economic hub, has been carved out between the government in the western part of the city, and the rebels in the east.

Government officials repeatedly accused Turkey of supporting the Nusra Front and other allies like the Ahrar al-Sham Movement to keep advancing in Aleppo against the Kurdish fighters and the Syrian army.

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