Thursday, October 20th, in the Syrian city of Aleppo has passed the trial period of so-called humanitarian pause, initiated by the Ministry of defence. The military and the police official of the Syrian government organized several corridors to evacuate from the besieged and half-ruined metropolis of the remaining civilians. Appeals to leave Aleppo sounded in the address of the militants of the armed opposition.
Moscow’s actions during the period of discussion and implementation of “humanitarian pauses” were demonstrably peaceful in nature. Russian military command announced the measure on Monday evening: then the chief of the main operations Directorate of the General staff Sergey rudskoy said that since 20 October there will be organized a “humanitarian pause” for the withdrawal from Aleppo civilians and the evacuation of sick and wounded. They will act in the daytime, from 8:00 to 16:00 (time in Syria coincides with Moscow).
The following morning, 18 October, defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Russian and Syrian aircraft prematurely stop bombing the besieged parts of Aleppo almost two days before the entry into force of the “humanitarian pause”. Russian diplomats and military officials described the step as a “gesture of goodwill” to restore mutual trust with the West and return to September truce plan.
Wednesday evening on November announced that “the numerous appeals of international organizations” by the Russian and Syrian parties to extend a “humanitarian pause” for three hours until 19:00. Thus, the process of withdrawal of the civilian population on Thursday took a whole day. However, data on how many people have left town by Thursday evening had not yet been announced.
The day “humanitarian pause” of the Ministry of defense of Russia broadcast on webcam of what is happening in the two main humanitarian corridors in real-time. When the operation for the withdrawal of civilians from Aleppo were in full swing, the Russian leader Vladimir Putin instructed the defense Ministry to extend a “humanitarian pause” for another day — the offer was immediately supported by the official Damascus.
In addition, as reported by the Associated Press, assistant to the UN special envoy on Syria, Jan Egeland, his organization had received verbal assurances from the Russian diplomats in Geneva and written by Russian commanders in Syria that Moscow plans to introduce such a daily “humanitarian pause”, with a length of 11 hours at least until next Monday.
As noted by Syrian state Agency SANA, on Thursday morning, with the onset of the “humanitarian pause”, helicopters of the Syrian air force has dropped over the besieged Eastern Aleppo “hundreds of thousands” of leaflets showing the routes out of the city for two humanitarian corridors. Any incidents related to the use of military helicopters, not reported.
Trial day “humanitarian pause” did not go very smoothly. In the South corridor in the area of Bustan al-Qasr, the militants of “Jabhat Fatah al-sham” (banned in Russia group) morning and opened fire on the crowd at the checkpoint to civilians, but it was possible to do without victims. Subsequently, South the humanitarian corridor was able to use for the passage of about ten militants who were promised Amnesty. Towards the end of the day, just before the expiration of the “humanitarian pause”, the militants attacked positions of the Syrian army in the Northern corridor, along the so called road of Castello.
Three officers of the Russian center for reconciliation were wounded in the shelling by militants of the corridors in the district of El-Malark in Aleppo, reports “RIA Novosti” with reference to the statement of the Ministry of defense. The Ministry added that officers delivered to the base Hamim, to their life threatens nothing. The defense Ministry also announced that the militant group “Ahrar al-sham” publicly executed 14 members of local authorities of Eastern Aleppo for calling to leave this part of the city.
Earlier in conversation with senior lecturer in the Department of political science school of Economics Leonid Isaev noted that the situation around the “humanitarian pause” really is a “goodwill gesture” on the part of Moscow and is largely due to the growing international isolation of Russia on the Syrian issue.
In the last month — ever since a brief truce in Syria was actually a failed Western politicians have accused Russia of committing war crimes in Syria. In particular, it was about the suspicion of direct or indirect participation in the shelling of humanitarian convoys and the deaths of civilians in besieged areas of Aleppo.
The announcement, preparation and introduction of a “humanitarian pause” in time almost coincide with numerous international summits and negotiations of the past few days, which, in particular, discussed for more (Ukrainian) sanctions against Moscow over the bloodshed in Syria.
So, last Saturday in Lausanne hosted a meeting of the foreign Ministers of Russia, USA and Arab countries on the Syrian issue. In fact, the negotiations came to nothing — it was not even formulated and promulgated the final communiqué. On Monday, a meeting of the foreign Ministers of the EU countries, which also discussed the Syrian problem, but none of the countries of the block, on assurance of the head of European diplomacy Federica Mogherini, is not proposed to introduce against Russia, any new sanctions.
On Wednesday evening, when already there were preparations for the introduction of a “humanitarian pause” in Aleppo, in Berlin hosted a meeting of leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France about the situation in the Donbass. After the main part of the talks, the Troika of politicians, not counting the Ukrainian President, discussed the Syrian issue. As stated by the then Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, the conversation had the character of a “clear and tough exchange of views.”
Finally, on Thursday in Brussels, opened the summit of the European Council meeting of heads of state and government of the EU. As follows from the draft of the final statement, published by Bloomberg, European leaders reserve the right to impose sanctions if the violence in Aleppo does not cease.
Earlier this week Reuters the German government argued that the restrictions against Russia will really stand on the summit agenda, but the decision about them to be taken until. Last week the President of the European Council Donald Tusk has left from the answer to a question of journalists on new sanctions against Moscow, calling only to extend the existing ones. As explained then a source in the EU, among the countries of the Union do have supporters and opponents of sanctions for Syria, so Brussels, against the background of peace initiatives in Aleppo, most likely, will choose a “middle ground” keeping the current level of restrictions.