Russia is extending a goodwill gesture to the war-torn country in Syria. The foreign power plays a major role in the conflict in Syria, supporting President Bashar al-Assad and claiming to go after Islamist militants. As the Russian forces cooperate with Syrian forces on airstrikes, Russia claims that it is after al-Nusra operating in the region. At the same time, making allegations that the United States is supporting them. But Russia recently offered a respite in the fighting in the form of a temporary ceasefire. The singular action did not have the results Russia had publicly predicted. The residents of Aleppo didn’t have much faith in the Russian ceasefire.
Background to the Russian Ceasefire
Recently, Syrian and Russian forces have hit Aleppo very hard. Now, Russia wants to be the good guy in the story. After virtually laying the east of Aleppo under siege, Russia declared a ceasefire on its own. The move was not so much an olive branch or an opportunity for peace talks regarding Syria to start. Rather it was a window of opportunity for those in Aleppo to get out while they still can. Russia brokering peace after its actions in Syria is something that has little chance of success.
Not too long ago there was hope for Syria. It was frail and fragile, but it held the promise of a negotiation process that would put an end to the fighting. The United States and Russian met for a series of talks to negotiate a veritable ceasefire for Syria. There were many disagreements between the United States and Russia as Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met. But after one more meeting in Geneva, Russia signed on.
However, the ceasefire in Syria did not last long. After just a few days, a UN humanitarian convoy was attacked. Staff died and the UN suspended the humanitarian relief effort for Aleppo. Although the United States blamed Russia for the attack, the Russian side did not acknowledge anything. Soon after the ceasefire fell apart, Syrian forces with the help of Russian forces attacked Aleppo. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad talked about an opportunity to retake the eastern part of the city from the rebels.
The Residents of Aleppo Choose to Stay in the City
The city of Aleppo endured heavy fighting. There were many casualties, including children. The airstrikes targeted hospitals and infrastructure and the residents of the city lost access event to the most basic necessities of life. Now, Russia independently and without any UN backing offered a temporary ceasefire.
The Russian ceasefire started at 05:00 GMT on Thursday. Russia established “humanitarian corridors” that residents of the city could use and flee Aleppo. There are 275,000 people still in the city. Out of that number just 8,000 are considered to be rebel fighters.
Not many residents of east Aleppo took the opportunity to leave. The temporary ceasefire offered little certainty to those who are in shock anyway from so much fighting. Without any logistic support or humanitarian relief, the people did not know where they would go and what would happen to them.
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