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US, Russia Pressure Syrian Army To Cease Fire In Aleppo

The Syrian military announced it would observe a 48-hour truce in the city of Aleppo following pressure exerted by both Russia and the United States amid heavy fighting in Syria’s second largest city, which is under partial control of Syrian rebel forces.

The ceasefire became effective as of 1 AM, Syrian local time.

The Syrian army confirmed this in a statement run by the state newswire Sanaa. The cessation of hostilities was called amid severe violence in the city besieged by the Syrian governmental forces which have already ended in dozens of casualties this week alone.

The total number of dead over the past weeks stands at about 300, mostly civilians.

Related: Why Oil Prices Will Likely Drop Below $40 Soon

As the truce was implemented, observers on the ground said the level of fighting has significantly decreased, but expected to stop as commanders in the field on both sides get the word.

Russia said the truce could have been implemented two days earlier, but blamed the postponement on the opposition forces.

On Wednesday, the rebels came under heavy aerial bombing. The same day, U.S. diplomats said they were engaging with Russia to talk Damascus into accepting a ceasefire agreement in this battle, which represents some of the most intense fighting in a year in Syria.

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The UN has already warned that if a viable truce is not fully implemented, some 400,000 more refugees could head for the Turkish border. Aleppo lies at about 150 km from the nearest Turkish town.

In February, a similar ceasefire agreement was struck to questionable degrees of success. The primary purpose then was to deliver humanitarian aid to about 480,000 people living in the besieged areas.

Rebel forces are now asking the Syrian regime to back this ceasefire agreement with a previous commitment to release political detainees and allow aid to the besieged areas.

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By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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