The Latest: UN Syria envoy looks to Russian help on Aleppo

The Latest: UN Syria envoy looks to Russian help on Aleppo

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BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the developments in Syria's civil war (all times local):

8:55 p.m.

The U.N. envoy for Syria says the United Nations will "count on" Moscow to help ensure that Russia-backed forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad will hold to a hoped-for 48-hour pause in fighting in Aleppo.

The office of Staffan de Mistura welcomes Russia's readiness — expressed earlier on Thursday — to support a pause in fighting in the northern Syrian city, starting next week, so that humanitarian aid can get in.

De Mistura said the U.N. would also count on the United States and other backers of Syria's armed opposition to ensure that it too adheres to the long-sought pause in fighting.

Earlier, he abruptly called off a U.N. humanitarian task force meeting in Geneva to protest a lack of aid convoys to priority areas of Syria this month amid new fighting.


8:20 p.m.

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq says a 48-hour humanitarian pause in the Syrian city of Aleppo would be "a welcome first step" if all combatants agree.

But he says that what's needed most to ease the suffering of the people there and across Syria is a cease-fire.

Haq says the United Nations is in touch with the parties on the ground and is calling on them "to allow safe, unimpeded, impartial humanitarian access."

Speaking at the U.N. headquarters in New York on Thursday, shortly after Russia expressed its support for 48-hour weekly cease-fires in the embattled Syrian city, Haq said that "trucks with food, water and medicine are ready to move immediately."

He said "ambulances to evacuate urged medical cases are on standby," adding that the U.N. hopes that a 48-hour pause can help produce "the right atmosphere" for U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura to resume political talks with the Syrian government and opposition by the end of August.

Otherwise, Haq said, "there's no point in holding the talks."


6:25 p.m.

Syrian opposition activists and a Kurdish spokesman say that Syrian government warplanes have bombed Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Syria, a first in Syria's civil war.

Redur Khalil, a spokesman for the main Kurdish fighting force, says in a statement that Thursday's bombs struck residential areas and positions belonging to the Kurdish police force in the northern city of Hassakeh.

He says the attack resulted in multiple casualties and sent residents fleeing from the city. Khalil added that government forces will be held accountable for these "brutal, blatant attacks against our people."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported government warplanes had struck Kurdish positions in the city.

The two sides have clashed before on several occasions but it was the first reported aerial bombardment of Kurdish positions in the city by the government.


5:20 p.m.

The Russian military says it's ready to back a U.N. call for weekly 48-hour cease-fires to allow humanitarian aid deliveries to the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov says that Russia would back the initiative on condition that the aid convoys should travel to both rebel-controlled and government-controlled parts of the city.

He says Russia was ready to support aid deliveries starting next week.

Konashenkov on Thursday also added that specific dates could be determined upon coordination with the United Nations and after receiving guarantees of safe passage of the convoys from the U.S.

He says aid could be sent from Gaziantep in Turkey to the eastern part of Aleppo via Castello road. He says another route to the western part of Aleppo would run from Handarat and further along the Castello road.


5 p.m.

The Russian military says its warplanes have flown from Iran for a third straight day to strike targets in Syria.

The Russian Defense Ministry says the Tu-22M3 and the Su-34 bombers flew from bases in Russia and Iran on Thursday to target the Islamic State group's facilities in Syria's eastern province of Deir el-Zour.

It said that the raid struck five ammunition and fuel facilities, six command facilities and "destroyed a large number of militants, artillery and armor."

Russia first announced on Tuesday that its planes started flying combat missions from Iran against targets in Syria, a move that represented a historical rapprochement between Moscow and Tehran that could rile U.S.-allied Gulf neighbors, strengthen Syrian President Bashar Assad and impact the war against the Islamic State group.


9 a.m.

Syrian opposition activists have released haunting footage showing a young boy rescued from a partially destroyed building in the aftermath of a devastating airstrike in Aleppo.

The image of the stunned and weary-looking boy, sitting in an orange chair inside an ambulance, covered in dust and with blood on his face, encapsulates the horrors inflicted on the war-ravaged northern city. Photographs of the boy were widely shared on social media.

An hour after his rescue, the building the boy was in completely collapsed.

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