Calm in Aleppo as truce extended for three more days

A temporary ceasefire appeared to be holding in Aleppo on Saturday after it was extended for a further three days in the contested northern Syrian city, activists said. 

Russia's Defence Ministry said a truce that took effect in Aleppo on Thursday had been extended for three more days, starting at 0100 Saturday (2200 GMT Friday). 

No breach of the latest truce has been reported, according to Rami Abdel-Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"We have not heard the sound of any planes so far," said Mahmoud al-Shami, an activist based in the rebel-held side of the city.

"Things are quiet, but people are cautious in their movements for fear of new bombardment," al-Shami told dpa via a voice message. 

Aleppo, Syria's pre-war commercial hub and a key battleground in the country's five-year war, is divided between a government-held western sector and the rebel-held east.

Violence has simmered since April 22 in Aleppo, where at least 286 civilians have been killed in reciprocal attacks by regime forces and rebels, the Observatory said in a toll update.

The dead included 57 children and 38 women. 

The surge in fighting and civilian deaths prompted international diplomatic efforts to shore up an earlier US-Russian-brokered ceasefire that took effect in most parts of Syria in late February. 

That truce excluded the Islamic State extremist militia and al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.

In recent months, the overstretched regime army has made territorial gains against rebels in several parts of the country, taking advantage of military support from Russia, a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

On Saturday, al-Assad accused unnamed Western and regional powers of supporting "terrorism" in his country. 

"Several Western and regional countries, which have stoked terrorism in Syria in the past years, continue to support terrorists secretly and in public," al-Assad said, according to Syria's state news agency SANA.

"This support continues despite the efforts being exerted to cease hostilities and reach a political solution in Syria," he said at a meeting in Damascus with Ali Akbar Velayati, an advisor to Iran's supreme leader.

Al-Assad usually uses the term "terrorists" to refer to the opposition rebels fighting to oust him.

Iran has been a staunch backer of al-Assad since the pro-democracy uprising started against his regime in 2011.

Several Western and regional powers, backing the Syrian rebels, have repeatedly called for al-Assad to step down in order to end the conflict.

Last update: Sat, 07/05/2016 - 17:50

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