Syrian military halts assaults on east Aleppo: Russia

People walk past rubble of damaged buildings in a rebel-held besieged area in Aleppo, Syria November 6, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

The Syrian army has halted its military attacks on Aleppo in Syria to allow for the evacuation of civilians trapped by fighting, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.

France, a backer of the opposition to Syrian president Bashar Al Assad, is convening foreign ministers of like-minded countries in Paris to seek a strategy in the wake of the Aleppo onslaught, although few diplomats expect any thing concrete to be achieved.

Calls for an immediate ceasefire in Aleppo continued on Thursday when the United Nations warned that as many as 500 sick and injured children needed to be moved from besieged areas in Aleppo.

There has to be a pause,” said Jan England, head of the UN-backed humanitarian task force for Syria, pointing out that civilians had little chance of escaping the besieged part of eastern Aleppo.

In the past three weeks, government forces have seized about 85 per cent of territory rebels controlled in east Aleppo.

The White Helmets rescue group on Thursday urged international organisations to protect its members in rebel-held parts of east Aleppo in the face of the advance by government forces.

On Thursday, hundreds of families, most of them from Salhine, arrived in Aziza, south-east Aleppo, after rebel-held ­areas in the east of the city fell one by one to the advancing Syrian army.

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