The Russian Defense Ministry said a 48-hour cessation of hostilities has been declared in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo as activists reported relative calm in the country’s largest city on Thursday.
In past months, Aleppo has witnessed fierce fighting and bombardment, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of people on both sides of the contested city.
Russia said the truce went into effect after midnight Wednesday. Several similar truces have been declared in the city in recent months.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the city was calm Thursday. It said that since the latest round of violence began on April 22, 627 people have been killed and some 2,900 wounded. It said the dead included 124 minors under the age of 18.
Rebels seized part of Aleppo from forces loyal to President Bashar Assad in 2012. Assad’s forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, have nearly encircled rebel-held parts of the city in recent months.
Aleppo-based activist Baraa Al-Halaby said opposition fighters in Syria’s largest city and once commercial center were not informed about the truce. He added that although there is a truce, government forces as well as Russian and Syrian warplanes have been targeting the Castello road that links rebel-held areas with the rest of the country, preventing people from leaving.
“This is a joke,” Al-Halaby said by telephone. “The Castello road has been bombarded with barrel bombs for the past 12 hours,” he added, referring to the period after the truce went into effect.
Humanitarian aid organization Mercy Corps said there has been “a significant decrease in violence, although there have been minor infringements.”
Near Aleppo, fighting continued between members of the Daesh group and the US-backed predominantly Kurdish Syria Democratic Forces near the Daesh stronghold of Manbij.
The US Central Command said that as of Monday, the Syrian Arab Coalition, which is part of the SDF, completed the first phase of their operation to free the town of Manbij by securing the surrounding territory.
“After clearing Daesh from this area they are now ready for the second phase to liberate the city itself,” the CENTCOM statement said.