Syria civil war: Aleppo ceasefire extended

US confirms extension of ceasefire in Syria’s northern province, with Russia saying it will be valid for 72 hours.

A boy rides a bicycle near damaged buildings in the rebel held area of Old Aleppo
A boy rides a bicycle near damaged buildings in the rebel held area of Old Aleppo, Syria May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY-

The US State Department has confirmed an extension of the ceasefire in Syria’s northern province of Aleppo.

Russia late on Friday announced the extension of the truce in Aleppo for 72 hours starting at midnight on Saturday.

State department spokesman John Kirby said that “the cessation of hostilities has reduced violence in Aleppo, and the United States is committed to keeping it in place as long as possible”.

“While we welcome this recent extension, our goal is to get to a point where we no longer have to count the hours and that the cessation of hostilities is fully respected across Syria,” Kirby said.

The renewed truce extends a 48-hour ceasefire that came into effect on Wednesday at midnight Damascus time and was due to expire at midnight on Saturday.

Sporadic fighting

The initial ceasefire was supposed to include not only the city of Aleppo but also surrounding districts. 

However, fighting has continued at several locations across Aleppo province.

On Friday, Syrian rebel group al-Nusra Front captured the strategic village of Khan Touman outside of Aleppo city that could potentially open up new supply routes for rebel-held areas of the city.

The capture also opens up an alternate supply route to rebel-held areas of the city, connecting it to areas of Idlib that are also controlled by the opposition.

READ MORE: Rebels capture strategic Aleppo village

Syrian government forces have been trying to encircle rebels in the city by cutting them off from supply routes in the north.

Sources told Al Jazeera that groups involved in the attack included Ahrar al-Sham, Ajnad al-Sham and other factions under the command of the Army of Conquest.

British-based rights group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said more than 73 people had died in clashes in Khan Touman and surrounding villages, which included at least one al-Nusra suicide bomber. 

The group put the number of government dead at 30 and rebels killed at 43, with dozens of wounded on both sides.

Source: Al Jazeera