Asia / Europe / Middle East / Politics

The Latest: Russian, Syrian jets stay away from Aleppo

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on Syria (all times local):

5:58 p.m.

The Russian military says Russian and Syrian warplanes are staying away from Aleppo, a day before a temporary pause in the military push declared by Moscow.

Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi said the “humanitarian pause” in Aleppo will last from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, three hours longer than had been announced originally.

Rudskoi said Wednesday the break in hostilities should allow both civilians and militants safe exit out of the city. He said two of eight humanitarian corridors out of Aleppo are reserved for militants — one offering an exit toward Turkey and another leading to the neighboring rebel-held province of Idlib.

Russian and Syrian warplanes halted airstrikes on Aleppo starting Tuesday, and Rudskoi said they have kept at least 10 kilometers (6 miles) away from the city.

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4:42 p.m.

A Syrian negotiator says 38 buses carrying nearly 2,000 people, including 700 gunmen, have been evacuated from a government-besieged suburb of Damascus following a deal to empty it of rebels.

Hassan Ghandour, a resident of Moadamiyeh and a leading negotiator, said Wednesday the buses were heading from Moadamiyeh to the northern rebel-held province of Idlib. Some of the evacuees were also wounded.

The evacuation began in September, following a deal struck with the government.

FILE - In this file image made from video posted online on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016 by Qasioun News Agency, Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces patrol in Dabiq, Syria. Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces have captured the symbolically significant town of Dabiq from the Islamic State group, the factions said Sunday morning. Simultaneous attacks on the Islamic State-held city of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa, the de facto IS capital across the border in eastern Syria, would make military sense: They would make it harder for the extremists to move reinforcements and deny them a safe haven. (Qasioun News Agency via AP, File)

FILE – In this file image made from video posted online on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016 by Qasioun News Agency, Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces patrol in Dabiq, Syria. Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces have captured the symbolically significant town of Dabiq from the Islamic State group, the factions said Sunday morning. Simultaneous attacks on the Islamic State-held city of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa, the de facto IS capital across the border in eastern Syria, would make military sense: They would make it harder for the extremists to move reinforcements and deny them a safe haven. (Qasioun News Agency via AP, File)

Ghandour said that after Wednesday’s evacuation, the suburb would be free of all gunmen and state control would be imposed.

The government had also struck a deal with the neighboring suburb of Daraya, which surrendered after a four-year siege and a punishing bombing campaign.

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4:00 p.m.

Turkey’s president says his Russian counterpart has asked for Turkey’s assistance toward the removal of fighters from the extremist Fatah al-Sham Front, previously known as Nusra Front, from the embattled northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday he discussed Aleppo with Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday evening, before Russia announced a temporary halt to airstrikes.

“We gave the necessary orders to our friends,” Erdogan said, adding that the leaders discussed an agreement to work together on “removing Nusra from Aleppo and ensuring calm for Aleppo residents on this front.”

Erdogan also warned about the possibility of an influx of at least one million people to Turkey in the event of a population movement from Aleppo.

“We cannot pay this cost. Those who incite this must sit down with Turkey and talk,” he said.

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11:15 a.m

Russia’s military says a U.S.-led coalition airstrike on a Syrian village in the province of Aleppo has killed six civilians.

The military’s Reconciliation Center in Syria says Tuesday’s strike on the village of Hassajek also wounded four people and destroyed two houses.

The center says Russian military surveillance means spotted two Belgian F-16 fighter jets over the area at the time of the strike. It noted that Russian and Syrian warplanes weren’t flying over the area Tuesday.

Russia’s Tass news agency reported from Brussels that the Belgian defense minister denied Belgian aircraft had struck the area.

Russia announced that Russian and Syrian warplanes halted their airstrikes on the besieged city of Aleppo, in preparation for a temporary pause in the military push that Moscow has announced for Thursday.
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