MOSCOW (AP) — Russia bristled at extending the breaks in the fighting in Aleppo, saying it would play into the hands of the militants, but promised that such halts will continue, according to a statement issued by the Russian Defense Ministry.
Spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Thursday that the ministry had received a request from U.N. official Jan Egeland to extend the "humanitarian pause" in Aleppo.
Konashenkov criticized the U.N. for failing to make use of the 10-hour pause to deliver aid, despite being given advance notice.
"The humanitarian pauses are undoubtedly needed," Konashenkov said. "But we believe that simply extending their duration without offering real assistance to civilians, and allow the terrorists to restore their capabilities, would be unproductive and defy common sense."
Russia has repeatedly introduced such dawn-to-dusk breaks to allow both fighters and civilians to leave Aleppo's rebel-held eastern part. But militants have refused to leave, and during the last such halt on Friday they fired at one of humanitarian corridors, wounding two Russian servicemen.
Moscow said that Russian and Syrian warplanes haven't been conducting any airstrikes on the city of Aleppo since Oct. 18. The halt on strikes didn't apply to the wider Aleppo province.
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Thursday poured scorn on the U.S. officials who questioned the usefulness of Russia's "humanitarian pauses."
"The degree of these people's capriciousness is amazing," Ryabkov said in comments carried by the Interfax news agency. "No matter what we do, it's all bad. If we carry out strikes it's bad; if we don't it's bad. If we open humanitarian corridors it's also bad."
Ryabkov said that breaks in fighting in Aleppo will continue to be observed to help civilians.