Russia, Syria to allow civilians, surrendering militants to leave Aleppo

MOSCOW, July 28 (UPI) — The Russian Defense Ministry said a large-scale humanitarian operation will begin in Aleppo on Thursday in which civilians and militants will be allowed to leave.

Civilians can escape the embattled city via three corridors, the defense ministry said. Militants who wish to lay down their weapons can leave the city through another corridor. Aleppo was Syria’s largest city before the country’s civil war.

“In accordance with the order of the Russian president to start a large-scale humanitarian operation together with the Syrian government to provide assistance to the population of Aleppo, to assist civilians taken hostage by terrorists, as well as militants who chose to lay down their weapons, the Russian center for reconciliation of the warring parties, together with Syrian authorities, will open three humanitarian corridors there,” Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said.

Shoigu said mobile humanitarian aid centers will be deployed near the exit corridors to provide food and medical assistance. Syria has been ravaged by a complex civil war in which the Islamic State, the Syrian government and multiple Syrian rebel groups fight for control of territory.

“I want to emphasize that we are taking this step, first and foremost, to ensure the safety of Aleppo residents,” Shoigu added.

Russia is calling on the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad to grant amnesty to militants not implicated in “bloody crimes” who wish to lay down their arms. Shoigu said more than 500 people have died and 2,000 have been injured in suicide bombings targeting Syrian government positions in the past two weeks.

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