World War III Update: Syrian army begins new offensive on rebel-held areas, but Russia extends ceasefire

By @vitthernandez on
Aleppo
Iraqi refugees that fled violence in Mosul ride a pick-up truck upon arrival in al-Kherbeh village, northern Aleppo province, Syria October 24, 2016. Reuters/Khalil Ashawi

Amid wide anticipation that Russia would launch an air strike on Aleppo within two weeks that could trigger a global war, some relief appears to be on the way. Moscow extended the three-day ceasefire in the war-torn Syrian city and there has been no air strike in the region in seven days.

However, there appears to be some conflict in the statements of Russian officials because while the military said on Tuesday that the weeklong ceasefire in Aleppo would continue and humanitarian corridors remain open, the foreign ministry says otherwise. Sergei Ryabkov, deputy foreign minister, says Russia does not plan another humanitarian pause in the Syrian city, CBS reports.

Igor Konashenkov, official spokesman of the Russian Defense Ministry, points out that six humanitarian corridors continue to be operations 24/7. First medical aid stations and hot meal centres are likewise open.

On Tuesday, Lt Gen Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military’s General Staff, says Syrian and Russian warplanes have stayed six miles away from the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo. But the rebels have turned down the offer of Russian ceasefire, while the planned civilian evacuation did not push through for lack of guarantee from both sides.

Although the Syrian army has resumed is offensive, Rudskoi adds six humanitarian corridors are still open and there could be new breaks in fighting to evacuate civilians subject to negotiation. An estimated 275,000 people are trapped in Aleppo, according to the UN. Russia and local authorities claim 48 women and children from eastern Aleppo on Monday night were evacuated with help from the Russian Center using a humanitarian corridor.