Russia announces ‘humanitarian pause’ in bombing of Aleppo

ALEPPO, Syria,  Russia announced Monday a “humanitarian pause” of eight hours in the bombing of the Aleppo.

Burnt and damaged trucks carrying humanitarian aid are seen after airstrikes destroyed 18 vehicles in a 31-truck aid convoy in Orum al-Kubra on the outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on September 20. The Red Cross said at least 20 people were killed in the attack. Russia announced an eight-hour “humanitarian pause” Thursday in airstrikes. Photo by Omar Haj Kadour/ UPI | License Photo

Russian defense ministry official Gen. Sergei Rudskoy said the halt will occur starting at 8 a.m. Thursday as civilians and rebels could leave the war-torn city.

“For that period, Russia’s air force and Syrian government forces will halt air strikes and firing from other weapons,” he said.

But the United Nations says at least 12 hours are needed to deliver humanitarian aid to people in the city.

“We would welcome any pause in the fighting, but there is a need for a longer pause in order to get the aid in,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

Earlier Monday, 14 members of one family, including eight children and two women, were reportedly killed in a strike in Aleppo.

Rudskoy acknowledged “reaching an agreement on all issues may take a long time.”

“Therefore, we have taken a decision not to waste time and to introduce ‘humanitarian pauses,’ mainly for the free passage of civilians, evacuation of the sick and wounded, and withdrawal of fighters,” he said.

Also Monday, the European Union Foreign Affairs Council published findings that concluded that Russia’s involvement — along with Syrian government forces — may amount to war crimes.

“The deliberate targeting of hospitals, medical personnel, schools and essential infrastructure, as well as the use of barrel bombs, cluster bombs, and chemical weapons, constitute a catastrophic escalation of the conflict … and may amount to war crimes,” the commission said in a statement.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin canceled a visit to France after French President Francois Hollande’s suggestion that Moscow is guilty of war crimes in Syria. Putin called the claim “political rhetoric that does not mean much and does not take into account the realities in Syria.”

On Oct. 8, Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution to stop the bombing in Aleppo and allow access for humanitarian aid.

Leaders in the United States, Britain and western Europe are considering sanctionson Russia and Syria in response to the bombings.

By Allen Cone