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Russian senators emphasize Aleppo truce’s success depends on West, armed opposition

October 18, 2016, 14:53 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Russian lawmaker Viktor Ozerov says it is not the first attempt by the Syrian authorities and the Russian military "to show compassion and minimize the number of victims in Aleppo"

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Aleppo, Syria

Aleppo, Syria

© Alexander Kots/Komsomolskaya Pravda via AP

MOSCOW, October 18. /TASS/. The decision on halting airstrikes in Aleppo is a goodwill gesture on the part of the Syrian authorities and the Russian military, the success of the armistice depends on how it will be taken by the West and the armed opposition, members of Russia’s Federation Council (upper house of parliament) International Affairs and Defense Committees told TASS on Tuesday.

If the insurgents leave Aleppo, "the city will be able to go back to peaceful life," to get food, medications, evacuate the wounded, said Viktor Ozerov, the Chairman of the Federation Council Defense and Security Committee. "As for the humanitarian situation, of course, it will improve, if the other side agrees to the ceasefire," the senator stressed.

Ozerov also recalled that this is not the first attempt by the Syrian authorities and the Russian military "to show compassion and minimize the number of victims in Aleppo." When asked whether the armed opposition will heed the appeal from Moscow and Damascus, he pointed out that "even if a dozen of militants left Aleppo, that would mean the operation was not in vain."

The decision on the truce was made to make sure that civilians can flee Aleppo through a humanitarian corridor, First Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Federation Council International Affairs Committee, Vladimir Jabarov, told TASS, adding that gunmen would be able to leave the city as well. He recalled that the militants willing to flee the city had been allowed to leave with their weapons to make sure they would not carry out any more terror attacks in Aleppo. "This is a goodwill gesture on the part of Russia and Syrian government troops. I hope that it will be heeded by the West and interpreted correctly," the senator said.

"This is almost the last chance to resolve the situation regarding Aleppo, and its implementation will depend to a large extent on the stance of our Western partners, above all, the US," said First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee, Franz Klintsevich. "At the same time, we heard nothing about Western attempts to influence the armed units in the eastern part of Aleppo, or persuade their leaders to cease hostilities and leave the city, without which this last chance will certainly be missed," he added.

Leonid Slutsky, the head of the State Duma’s committee on international affairs, told journalists that "the decision to impose a humanitarian pause in Aleppo is in line with proposals from the United Nations Secretary General’s special envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura and demonstrates Russia’s adherence to peace settlement and political dialogue in the Syrian Arab Republic."

"We decided not to wait until our American partners have the grace to fulfill their commitments [regarding cessation of fire] and stop flirting with Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in order to implement their goals to overthrow the regime of [Bashar] Assad," Slutsky said.

"We stopped strikes in order to save the lives of civilians and prevent the humanitarian disaster in Aleppo," he said.

According to Sergey Zheleznyak, member of the State Duma’s international affairs committee, the pause in hostilities announced by Russia and Syria for delivery of humanitarian aid to the city of Aleppo demonstrates Moscow’s adherence to the use of all its opportunities to prevent civilian casualties.

"Russia’s decision to halt strikes by the Russian Aerospace Forces and Syrian government troops on the positions of militants around Aleppo to prepare and implement the humanitarian pause shows our country’s consistent actions to free people from the city’s districts seized by terrorists," he emphasized.

"By imposition of the humanitarian pause, Russia once again demonstrates our adherence to the use of all reasonable opportunities to prevent casualties among civilians who turned out to be in the epicenter of the fight against international terrorism," the official notes.

He said "as long as the West organizes provocations, engages in blackmail and sows lies about our country, Russia keeps saving the lives of Syrian nationals who are under the oppression of militants."

"Against that background, the statement by the foreign ministers of the EU with unproven accusations against Russia and Syria sounds particularly ridiculous."

"Russia’s Aerospace Forces in principle do not make strikes on terrorist facilities in apartment block areas to avoid innocent victims, which has been many times confirmed by technical means of video recording and data of independent monitoring," the deputy continued.

"Our country has more than once called on Washington and their allies to provide information on location of moderate opposition, but it has not been done up to that moment," he said.

"We hope the West will render the required influence upon militant detachments it patronizes for the humanitarian pause not to be disrupted on October 20," Zheleznyak said.

He said it "will allow the civilian population and armed detachments of those the United States considers moderate opposition to leave the besieged city to complete its liberation.".

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