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Putin orders Syria 'humanitarian pause'


27/02/18   BBC:Russia's President Vladimir Putin has ordered a daily five-hour pause in the Syrian government's assault on the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area.
It will start on Tuesday, and include the creation of a "humanitarian corridor" to allow civilians to leave.
The rebel enclave near Damascus, where 393,000 civilians are trapped, has been under intense bombardment by government forces with Russian support.
More than 560 people have been killed in eight days, a monitoring group says.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu made the announcement about the "humanitarian pause", saying it would run from 09:00 until 14:00 local time (07:00-12:00 GMT) daily.
In a further statement, the ministry said the Syrian Red Crescent would help set up the corridor and people would receive information about it via leaflets, text messages and videos.
No. A UN Security Council resolution passed on Saturday demanded that "all parties cease hostilities without delay for at least 30 consecutive days" to allow humanitarian aid deliveries and medical evacuations of critically ill people.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday that the resolution needed to be implemented immediately, warning: "Eastern Ghouta cannot wait. It's high time to stop this hell on Earth."
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that the UN-mandated truce would "start when all sides of the conflict agree on how to introduce it".
He said the jihadist groups Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda would be excluded, as well as the major Islamist rebel factions Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam.
Mr Lavrov called them "partners of al-Nusra Front" - the name of a former al-Qaeda affiliate whose latest incarnation is an alliance of jihadists called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). It has a small presence in the Eastern Ghouta.

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