Syria proposes Aleppo humanitarian ceasefire: diplomat

Syria proposes Aleppo humanitarian ceasefire: diplomat
United Nations Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria de Mistura.

UNITED NATIONS, United States - The Syrian regime is willing to suspend its aerial bombardment of Aleppo for six weeks to allow for a localized humanitarian ceasefire, a UN diplomat said Tuesday.

Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations' special envoy to Syria, announced the initiative during private meetings with the Security Council.

"The government of Syria has indicated to me its willingness to halt all aerial bombing and artillery shelling for a period of six weeks all over the city of Aleppo from a date we'll announce from Damascus," de Mistura told journalists after addressing the Security Council.

De Mistura, an Italian-Swedish diplomat, recently went to Syria and met President Bashar al-Assad.

He said he'd asked the regime to facilitate a UN mission to identify a district in Aleppo to serve as a trial area for a ceasefire.

"We'll see if the freeze holds and can be replicated," he said.

Rebel fighters who hold parts of Aleppo but have no air power would also be sought out and asked to suspend rocket and mortar fire for six weeks.

"The purpose is to spare as many civilians as possible while we try to find a political solution," the diplomat said.

De Mistura acknowledged a ceasefire would be tough to achieve, given past failures, but said there was "a glimmer of hope."

Appointed as the UN's special envoy for the Syria crisis last July, de Mistura briefed the Security Council on initial findings of his mission aimed at ending the four-year conflict that has devastated Syria.

De Mistura had last year proposed to Syria the setting up of ceasefire zones to allow the distribution of humanitarian aid in Aleppo.

The city has been divided since July 2012 between loyalist fighters in the west and rebels controling eastern sectors.

Some Security Council members, however, remain sceptical because a similar measure in Homs saw opposition forces abandon their positions only to have these seized by loyalists.

A council diplomat called that deal a "fool's bargain" that was "not a humanitarian ceasefire but a capitulation."

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