Russia on Thursday said Syrian regime forces have begun pulling back from around a key road into the ravaged city of Aleppo, freeing up the way for aid deliveries.
“The Syrian armed forces are fulfilling their obligations and have started a gradual withdrawal of military hardware and all personnel from the Castello Road, which will allow for the unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid to the eastern part of Aleppo,” senior Russian officer Vladimir Savchenko said in a televised briefing.
Savchenko said that rebel groups close to the crucial route did not appear to be carrying out a simultaneous pullback as agreed.
A ceasefire deal agreed by Washington and Moscow that went into force at sundown on Monday calls for the demilitarisation of the Castello Road, and Moscow had earlier said the Syrian army would start pulling back at 0600 GMT on Thursday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said that government forces and rebel fighters remained on the road after that time and the army was not willing to pull back before opposition forces did so.
The truce deal has calmed much of the fighting in Syria but desperately needed humanitarian aid has not yet been allowed to reach civilian areas as planned under the agreement.
“The cessation of hostilities is not being fulfilled by the opposition units controlled by the US. Shelling continues, people are dying and houses are being destroyed,” senior commander Viktor Poznikhir said.
If the truce holds then Russia and the United States could start coordinating strikes against jihadists.