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Aleppo residents favour 'freeze' in fighting: poll

Most residents in opposition-held areas of Syria's Aleppo favour the UN's proposal of a "freeze" in fighting, but are sceptical that a truce will hold, a survey published Thursday said. The poll said 53 percent of people surveyed favoured a lull in fighting, with 38 percent saying a freeze would allow humanitarian aid to reach war-torn areas of Syria's second city.

Less than one in 10 respondents said a truce would expedite a political solution to Syria's conflict, however. The poll, conducted by the Sada Centre for Research and Public Opinion and the Arab Reform Initiative, surveyed 975 people in opposition-held areas of Aleppo city. Eighty-nine percent of respondents meanwhile said a freeze would either prove unworkable or unstable without rules binding the regime and opposition factions operating in Aleppo.

But most - 77 percent - did not have faith in the international community to be a trustworthy guarantor. Nonetheless, because of the daily violence and shortages they face, "a wide majority seems ready to accept the truce under any circumstances," the pollsters said. Aleppo has seen some of the country's worst violence since a major rebel offensive was launched in July 2012. The city is now divided into regime and rebel-held areas.

According to the Arab Reform Initiative, which is close to Syria's opposition, more than 400,000 people live in rebel-held areas of Aleppo. These areas come under daily aerial attack by the regime despite repeated international condemnation, and many neighbourhoods have been flattened by fighting and shelling. In October, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura put forward a plan to "freeze" fighting in Aleppo, which would facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid and lay the groundwork for peace talks.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015


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