Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu announced that the Russian and Syrian air forces have halted all strikes on Aleppo two days ahead of a planned humanitarian pause to allow civilians and rebels to evacuate the war-torn city, RIA Novosti reported.
According to Shoygu, special humanitarian corridors have been set up to facilitate the evacuation.
"We call on the leadership of countries that have influence over armed groups in eastern Aleppo to convince their leaders to stop military action and abandon the city," he said. "Everyone really interested in the fastest possible stabilization of the situation in the city of Aleppo should take genuine political steps and not continue shuffling political papers."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that the temporary cessation of airstrikes is a gesture of goodwill in the hope that the U.S.-led coalition will be able to “dissociate moderate opposition from terrorists”.
Responding to the announcement, U.S. State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said the move comes too late for the inhabitants of Aleppo.
"An eight-hour break for the population of Aleppo, which has undergone so much suffering, would be a good solution, but frankly, it's a little late, too late,” Toner stated.