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MOSCOW, July 29 /TASS/. The first foreign reaction to Russia’s request to support the humanitarian operation in Aleppo is inspiring some optimism, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told journalists on Friday.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Russia and the Syrian government were starting a joint relief operation. He said that four humanitarian corridors would open in Aleppo, including one for the militants with arms. The minister also ordered the delivery of food, medical supplies and essentials to the people of Aleppo by air.
"The military and diplomatic agencies have appealed to their foreign colleagues and leading foreign countries to support the Russian side’s efforts to render humanitarian assistance to the Aleppo population. The first reaction is inspiring some optimism," Antonov said.
He said that the Doctors Without Borders international organization, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Office of U.N. Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura had shown interest in the Russian initiative.
"Our colleagues noted that any initiative allowing ordinary Syrians to leave for safer areas might turn out to be positive. It is natural that concrete issues related to the relief aid provision need thorough planning and preparation," Antonov said.
The Russian deputy defense minister was surprised by the reaction of some media outlets and political figures who saw a hidden agenda behind Russia’s proposal.
"I would like to emphasize that the operation in Aleppo is exclusively humanitarian, and we are ready to do everything within our power to render assistance to peaceful civilians, whom terrorists have taken hostage, and even to the militants who wish to lay down arms," Antonov concluded.
According to Antonov, humanitarian corridors for peaceful missions can be opened both from Aleppo and into the city, if necessary.
"If need be, humanitarian corridors for peaceful convoys will be opened not only from Aleppo but also into that city. However, we won’t allow under any circumstances additional arms supplies from outside to the areas controlled by militants," he said.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Thursday that Moscow and Damascus were beginning a large-scale humanitarian operation in Aleppo.
According to Shoigu, four corridors will be established for leaving the city. The humanitarian effort also envisages the delivery of foods, medicines and essential items for civilians by air.