Aleppo strikes cease

MOSCOW – The Russian and Syrian air forces have halted all air strikes on Aleppo, two days ahead of a planned pause in bombing designed to allow rebels and civilians to leave the city, the Russian defence minister said on Tuesday.

The announcement, by Sergei Shoigu, follows a promise made by Moscow on Monday to pause strikes today for eight hours.

Shoigu, in a televised meeting with military officials, said strikes had been halted from 10am local time (7pm Fiji time) on Tuesday to help guarantee the safety of six corridors for civilian evacuation and to prepare for the removal of sick and wounded people from eastern Aleppo.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said Russian warplanes had launched heavy raids on Aleppo early on Tuesday, but that it had been quiet after that.

Shoigu said Russia now expected militants to leave Aleppo, with their weapons, via two special corridors, one via the Castello Rd and the other near the Al-Khai Souq market.

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