Aleppo residents emerge as truce takes hold in Syrian city

Aleppo (Syria) (AFP) –


A 48-hour ceasefire took hold Thursday in Syria's battered second city of Aleppo as fighting subsided and relieved residents returned to the streets.

The Syrian army said late on Wednesday that it had agreed to calls from Russia and the United States for a two-day truce in Aleppo that would begin from 1:00 am on Thursday.

Renewed fighting in and around Aleppo in recent days had threatened the full collapse of a landmark ceasefire agreed between President Bashar al-Assad's regime and non-jihadist rebels in late February.

More than 280 civilians were reported killed since April 22 in the fighting in divided Aleppo, with regime air strikes pounding the opposition-held east while rebels fired a barrage of rockets into the government-controlled west.

Early on Thursday, an AFP correspondent in the city said there had been no signs of fresh air raids since the ceasefire took effect.

As residents emerged, shopkeepers were reopening their doors while fruit and vegetable markets -- one of which was struck in an April 24 raid that left 12 dead -- were again up and running.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, confirmed there had been no bombing in the city, though it said a civilian had died in a western district from rebel shelling that came minutes after the ceasefire took effect.

The head of the powerful Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) rebel force in Aleppo, Ahmad Sanada, told AFP the group would respect the ceasefire.

"We are in favour of any initiative that relieves the suffering of civilians and avoids bloodshed and we will respect" the ceasefire, he told AFP.