Russia on Wednesday told rebels holed up in Aleppo to leave by Friday night, signaling it would extend a moratorium on airstrikes against targets inside the Syria city.
The Russian Defense Ministry, which is helping forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad try to retake full control of Aleppo, said rebels would be allowed to exit the city unharmed and with their weapons between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time on Nov. 4 via two special corridors.
Civilians and the sick and wounded would be allowed to leave via six other corridors, it said.
President Vladimir Putin had ordered the pause in fighting "to avoid senseless victims," the Defense Ministry said. It added that Syrian authorities would ensure that Assad's troops pulled back from the two corridors designated for rebels. One exit leads to the Turkish border, the other to the city of Idlib, according to the ministry.
Rebel groups in Aleppo dismissed Russia's latest offer, with The Associated Press quoting one of the groups as saying it was a media stunt for "public consumption."
Russia and its Syrian allies say they halted air attacks on Aleppo on Oct 18. Western governments had alleged that the strikes had been killing civilians in large numbers, an allegation Moscow denied.
But Molhem Ekaidi, deputy commander of Fastaqim group, one of the major rebel factions fighting inside Aleppo, accused the Russians of lying. "The (Russian) shelling and crimes continue and their planes have not left the skies of Aleppo," he said.
Humanitarian pauses designed to allow both rebels and civilians to exit the city have been organized by Moscow and Damascus before, but have largely failed amid continued violence with both sides accusing the other of stopping people from leaving.