Middle East

Syrian government willing to suspend strikes against Aleppo: UN envoy

The Syrian government has expressed its willingness to suspend its military activities against the foreign-backed militants in the northern city of Aleppo for six weeks to allow for a local humanitarian ceasefire, the United Nations special envoy to Syria says.

“The government of Syria has indicated to me its willingness to halt all aerial bombing and artillery shelling for a period of six weeks all over the city of Aleppo from a date we’ll announce from (the Syrian capital city of) Damascus,” Staffan de Mistura told journalists after a closed-door UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Tuesday.

De Mistura also said he will travel to Syria in the near future and will ask the militants in the Middle Eastern country to also stop their mortar and rocket fire.

“The purpose is to spare as many civilians as possible while we try to find a political solution,” he stated, emphasizing, “Facts on the ground will prove if the freeze holds and can be replicated elsewhere.”

Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, once served as the country’s industrial powerhouse, but has been split between a government-held western part and a militant-held eastern portion since mid-2012.

De Mistura, who was appointed last July as the UN envoy to Syria, told the UNSC about his recent meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, and the initial findings of his mission aimed at ending the almost five years of conflict in the country.

On Friday, De Mistura said Assad must be involved in any peaceful solution to the crisis in the Arab country.

Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The violence fueled by Takfiri groups has so far claimed the lives of over 210,000 people, according to reports. New figures show that over 76,000 people, including thousands of children, lost their lives in Syria last year.

More than 7.2 million Syrians have also become internally displaced and millions more left the country due to the ongoing crisis, according to the UN.

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