MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a daily five-hour truce and the creation of a “humanitarian corridor” to allow civilians to leave the rebel-held Syrian enclave of eastern Ghouta, Russia’s defence minister was quoted as saying.
In one of the bloodiest offensives of Syria’s civil war, eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus controlled by opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, has been subject to heavy bombardment by government forces. Russia is Assad’s most powerful ally.
“With the aim of eliminating casualties among the civilian population of eastern Ghouta, a daily humanitarian pause is being introduced from Feb. 27, that is tomorrow, from 09:00 until 14:00,” Russia’s RIA news agency quoted Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying on Monday.
“A humanitarian corridor will be created for the exit of civilians. The coordinates (of the corridor) have been prepared and will be announced in the near future,” Shoigu added.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights a, UK-based monitoring group, has said more than 500 people have been killed in the strikes by pro-Assad forces in the past week.
The United Nations Security Council voted on Saturday for a 30-day ceasefire across Syria, though fighting continued inside eastern Ghouta on Monday.
Russia has helped to set up humanitarian corridors in other Syrian cities that had been controlled by rebels.
Moscow says the corridors are aimed at saving lives, but Assad’s opponents say they are a cynical ploy to snuff out the last pockets of rebellion.
Reporting by Polina Ivanova; Writing by Polina Nikolskaya; Editing by Christian Lowe and Gareth Jones