Syria to Reduce Airstrikes in Aleppo to Alleviate Humanitarian Crisis, Military Source Says

Decision to reduce air strikes and artillery bombardment taken after the army's advances succeeded in cutting all the entry roads into Aleppo used by rebels.

Rebel fighters ride on a pick-up truck past damaged buildings in the northern Syrian rebel-held town of al-Rai, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria, October 5, 2016.
Khalil Ashawi, Reuters

The general command of Syria's army has decided to reduce the number of airstrikes and shelling of what it describes as terrorist positions in Aleppo to alleviate the humanitarian situation there, a Syrian military source said on Wednesday. 

In a statement also carried on state media, the army command said that civilians in rebel-held eastern Aleppo were being used as human shields and that the reduction in the bombardment would allow those who wished to do so to depart for safer areas.

Syria's army, backed by allied Shi'ite militias from Lebanon and Iraq, and by Russian air power, launched a new offensive against eastern Aleppo last month after the collapse of a week-long ceasefire, assisted by a massive bombardment. 

The decision to reduce the air strikes and artillery bombardment came after the army's advances had succeeded in cutting all the entry roads into Aleppo used by insurgents, the statement said. 

Since the offensive began on Sept. 19, the army and its allies have made territorial gains in the northern part of Aleppo, capturing the Handarat refugee camp, and have gained smaller areas in the south and in the city centre. 

The scale of the bombardment has led to criticism from Western countries.