Clashes erupt in Syrian city of Aleppo after truce expires

Warning that the city had received no aid since July and the food supplies were close to running out, the UN had urged extension of the ceasefire. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Aleppo, Aleppo Governorate, Syria Oct 22, 2016, 10.31 PM (IST)

Heavy artillery fire and clashes erupted once again in the Syrian city of Aleppo as a unilateral ceasefire called by Russia came to an end late on Saturday. 

The eastern districts reported sounds of fighting and artillery fire as the rebels clashed with the Syrian government forces. The first air strike since the end of the truce hit the opposition-controlled district of Sheikh Saeed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. 

Neither residents nor rebels had heeded calls from the Syrian army and Moscow to leave during the ceasefire. Moscow announced a temporary halt to the Syrian army's campaign to recapture the divided city on Thursday and had extended the "humanitarian pause" into a third day until 1600 GMT Saturday. 

The army opened eight corridors for evacuations, but few people managed to cross through a single passage. Despite a request by the United Nations for more time to evacuate wounded civilians, Moscow did not announce any further renewal of the truce. 

The United Nations said no medical and aid deliveries took place due to lack of requisite security guarantees. "You have various parties to the conflict and those with influence and they all have to be on the same page on this and they are not," said David Swanson, a spokesman for the UN humanitarian office.

The war-stricken city has received no aid since July 7 and food rations will run out by the end of the month, the UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned on Thursday. 

Russia has accused the rebels of preventing civilians from leaving and using them as "human shields". The Observatory said earlier both rebels and regime forces appeared to be reinforcing their positions, raising fears of a massive military operation if the ceasefire fails. 

(WION with inputs from AFP)

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