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Rebels and Civilians leave City as 10-hour cease-fire by Russia comes into Effect in Syria’s Aleppo

About 250,000 civilians on Aleppo’s eastern side are desperate for supplies and hundreds of others urgently need to be evacuated for medical care

FILE - Rebel fighters ride a pickup truck with civilians fleeing conflict in Dahiyet al-Assad, west Aleppo city, Syria, Oct. 30, 2016. A new cease-fire allows civilians and rebels to leave the embattled city. VOA

November 4, 2016: A Russian-declared 10-hour cease-fire went into effect in Syria’s embattled city of Aleppo Friday to allow both rebels and civilians to leave the city.

The chief of Russia’s General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, said earlier this week the moratorium, which was also approved by Syrian officials, was intended to “avoid pointless casualties.”

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He said rebels would be allowed to leave the city along two new corridors, one leading to the Turkish border and the other to the city of Idlib. The rebels are not required to surrender their weapons.

Six other exits are available to civilians who wish to evacuate.

Representational image. VOA
Representational image. VOA

However, rebel groups in Aleppo have dismissed Russia’s offer, accusing them of lying and calling the cease-fire a media stunt for “public consumption.” Similar humanitarian pauses have been organised by Moscow and Damascus before, but have largely failed.

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The most recent was in mid-October, when United Nations and Red Cross aid trucks sat at the Turkish border for weeks, awaiting confirmation that it was safe for them to pass. In mid-September, airstrikes on a U.N. aid convoy near Aleppo killed at least 20 people, the Red Cross reported.

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The United Nations says about 250,000 civilians on Aleppo’s eastern side are desperate for supplies and hundreds of others urgently need to be evacuated for medical care. (VOA)

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White House: Judge’s Decision Halting Travel Ban ‘Dangerously Flawed’

Travel Ban
A sign for International Arrivals is shown at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.VOA

The White House is reacting furiously to a federal judge blocking President Donald Trump’s latest executive Travel Ban order that would have banned entry to travelers from several countries beginning Wednesday.

“Today’s dangerously flawed district court order undercuts the president’s efforts to keep the American people safe and enforce minimum security standards for entry into the United States,” said a White House statement issued Tuesday shortly after Judge Derrick Watson ruled against restrictions on travelers from six countries the Trump administration said could not provide enough information to meet U.S. security standards.

The travel ban order would have barred to various degrees travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Watson’s temporary restraining order does not interfere with restrictions on North Korea and Venezuela.

Justice Department defends White House

The Justice Department “will vigorously defend the president’s lawful action,” the White House said, contending its proclamation restricting travel was issued after an extensive worldwide security review.

The Justice Department called the ruling incorrect and said it will appeal the decision “in an expeditious manner.”

Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke said: “While we will comply with any lawful judicial order, we look forward to prevailing in this matter upon appeal.”

Acting Director of Homeland Security Elaine Duke
Acting Director of Homeland Security Elaine Duke testifies before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

No change for North Korea, Venezuela

The new travel order “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor: it lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be ‘detrimental to the United States,'” Judge Watson wrote in his opinion.

The White House argues that its restrictions “are vital to ensuring that foreign nations comply with the minimum security standards required for the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our nation.”

Officials in the White House are expressing confidence that further judicial review will uphold the president’s action.

Hawaii involved for third time

Consular officials have been told to resume “regular processing of visas” for people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, according to a State Department official.

The suit on which Judge Watson ruled on Tuesday was filed by the state of Hawaii, the Muslim Association of Hawaii and various individuals.

“This is the third time Hawaii has gone to court to stop President Trump from issuing a travel ban that discriminates against people based on their nation of origin or religion,” said Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin. “Today is another victory for the rule of law.”(VOA)