The Russian president on Wednesday offered a new unilateral humanitarian pause for Syria’s war-ravaged Aleppo, urging rebels to use it to leave the city’s eastern, besieged districts.
The Syrian rebels quickly dismissed Vladimir Putin’s initiative.
“This is completely out of the question. We will not give up the city of Aleppo to the Russians and we won’t surrender,” rebel spokesperson Zakaria Malahifji said.
Putin has ordered that the aid corridors — which Russia had opened earlier — also be open on Friday, for longer hours, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., along with two new exit routes for the rebels to leave eastern Aleppo “in order to prevent a senseless loss of life,” the defence ministry said.
One exit leads to the Turkish border, the other to the city of Idlib, according to the ministry.
Malahifji said there were no safe exit corridors, as Russia had stated.
“It’s not true. Civilians and fighters are not leaving. Civilians are afraid of the regime, they don’t trust it,” he said. “And the fighters are not surrendering.”
Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian general staff, said he was “calling on all leaders of armed groups directly to cease hostilities and leave Aleppo with their weapons.”