The Syrian military today said a unilateral ceasefire backed by Russia had come into force to allow people to leave besieged eastern Aleppo, a move opposition groups have said was part of a psychological campaign to get them to surrender.
State media earlier said the army had opened exit corridors in two designated areas in the Bustan Al-Qasr quarter and near the Castello road in northern Aleppo city, where green buses were shown on state television to be waiting for them.
Intensified Russian and Syrian bombing of besieged opposition-held parts of Aleppo in the last few weeks has hit hospitals, bakeries and water pumping stations, killing hundreds of civilians.
The Syrian military yesterday said it would observe a temporary ceasefire to allow trapped civilians to escape and said it had pulled back to enable opposition fighters to leave the city via two designated corridors.
"We guarantee a safe exit, seize the opportunity and save your families," an army loudspeaker blared near an exit corridor shown live on the pro-Syrian government Lebanese news channel Mayadeen.
Opposition fighters say the goal of Moscow and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is to empty opposition-held areas of civilians so they can take over the whole city.
They say they are preparing a large-scale offensive to break the siege of Aleppo and that the Russian air force has failed, despite a relentless bombing campaign.
The Syrian army and its Iranian-backed militias are finding it harder to make headway after initial progress on the outskirts of the city that allowed the army to tighten its grip, opposition groups have said.