Syria: Aleppo ceasefire offers 'glimmer of hope'

Temporary 'freeze' on fighting may go ahead in Aleppo after government forces said they would halt bombing

Rebel groups in Aleppo
(Image credit: AFP/Getty Images)

The Syrian government has indicated that it is willing to suspend airstrikes in Aleppo for six weeks as part of a trial ceasefire, according to a UN mediator.

The proposal could offer a "glimmer of hope", but still needed to be negotiated with various rebel forces, said Syria's UN envoy Staffan de Mistura.

He is calling for a UN-monitored "freeze zone" which will allow access to humanitarian aid and may be the first step in working towards a wider solution to the conflict. Mistura is expected to return to Damascus soon to carry out further negotiations.

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"Let's be frank, I have no illusions because based on past experiences, this will be a difficult issue to be achieved," he told the BBC. "Facts on the ground will prove if the freeze holds and can be replicated elsewhere."

The embattled city of Aleppo currently stands divided between the rebel-held west and the government-controlled east. The conflict in Syria is estimated to have killed over 220,000 people, with millions more fleeing to neighbouring countries.

Local truces have proven largely successful in areas near Damascus and Homs, according to Al Jazeera. However, they were viewed as favouring the government forces, with Washington describing them as "surrender arrangements".

The western-backed opposition group Syrian National Coalition said it was waiting for a more detailed proposal from the UN before it would agree to a temporary end to fighting.

"The Assad regime’s compliance with any such proposal will be judged by actions, not words," its representative Najib Ghadbian told The Guardian. "And thus far his actions have been only brutality and terror."

Rebels and opposition activists have also expressed fears that the government will exploit the local ceasefire to redeploy its troops elsewhere in the country and have questioned how a truce would hold with Islamic State militants operating in the area.

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