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Syria says will ease anti-terror attacks in Aleppo

A Syrian army jet is guided out of the hangar at al-Dumayr military airport near Damascus on April 8, 2016. (Photos by AFP)

The Syrian military has announced a decision to scale back its attacks against foreign-backed Takfiri terrorists in Aleppo in a bid to allow a safe passage for civilians out of the embattled northwestern city.

"The military command has decided to reduce the number of airstrikes and artillery bombardment against terrorist positions to allow civilians that want to leave to reach safe areas," the Syrian army said in a statement carried by the official SANA news agency on Wednesday.

Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, has been divided since 2012 between government forces in the west and foreign-sponsored militants in the east. Over the past few months, the city has witnessed intense fighting and turned into a frontline battleground.

Elsewhere in its statement, the Syrian army warned that civilians in the militant-held eastern Aleppo were being used as human shields.

The decision to cut back the anti-terror attacks came “after the success" of Syrian army forces in Aleppo "and cutting off all terrorist supply routes into the eastern districts,” the statement added.

A week-long truce, brokered by Russia and the US, came to an end across Syria on September 19.

Damascus refused to extend the deal after the US-led coalition, which is purportedly fighting Daesh, violated the agreement by hitting a Syrian military base near the eastern city of Dayr al-Zawr, leaving more than 80 Syrian troops dead and some 100 others wounded.

On September 22, Syria announced the start of a new military operation in Aleppo aimed at driving out the terrorists occupying the eastern part of the strategic city.

Since then, the Syrian army and its allies have made major gains in the militant-held quarters of Aleppo.

Syrian government forces gather amidst destruction in the largely deserted Palestinian refugee camp of Handarat, north of Aleppo, on September 24, 2016 after they recaptured the site.

In another development on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Syria's situation during a phone conversation held at the request of the US side.

It came two days after Washington suspended its participation in bilateral channels with Moscow, which were established to maintain the ceasefire in Syria.

Additionally on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, exchanged views over the phone on the crisis in Syria.

"The need to increase the international community's efforts to build a peaceful political process in (Syria), to create conditions for de-escalation of the situation and to address the acute humanitarian problems were emphasized" during the telephone conversation, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Syria has been gripped by deadly militancy since March 2011.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura have put the death toll from the Syria conflict at more than 300,000 and 400,000, respectively. This is while the UN has stopped its official casualty count in Syria, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.

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