Syrian troops return to Aleppo supply road amid claims of rebel attacks

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Russian defence ministry says Syrian allies have moved back to Castello road area after being attacked, as UN continues to wait to deliver aid

Debris and destroyed building along a section of the Castello road on 16 September (AFP)
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Last update: 
Friday 16 September 2016 15:33 UTC
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The Syrian army has returned its troops and arms to the Castello road near the city of Aleppo after coming under rebel fire, the Russian defence ministry said on Friday.

The route is a vital supply line into the rebel-held eastern side of Aleppo.

Senior Russian officer Vladimir Savchenko said government troops returned after aborting a pullback because rebels were not withdrawing as agreed.

"Despite the agreement, opposition ranks have not withdrawn their hardware and weapons from the Castello Road," Savchenko said. 

"As a result, with nightfall approaching, the weapons and military hardware withdrawn by government troops were returned to their previous positions."

All forces were supposed to withdraw and admit UN aid trucks as part of a US-Russian ceasefire deal in force since Monday.

However, the UN has been unable to deliver aid to the city due to security concerns and refusals by the Syrian government.

One convoy has been stuck outside the city for four days, with reports of its aid rotting in the late summer heat.

Video posted on Twitter earlier today showed what appeared to be bulldozers removing obstacles as the Syrian army withdrew from the Castello road area.

The Russian defence ministry also said it was ready to extend the truce by an additional 72 hours despite infractions on the rebel side.

The Syrian opposition violated the ceasefire 39 times in the last 24 hours, Russian news agencies quoted the ministry as saying. 

"Although the ceasefire agreement is bilateral, only one side is truly implementing it," defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

Konashenkov also slammed Washington for "unsuccessful" attempts at controlling US-backed rebels in Syria, which Moscow has accused of violating the ceasefire.

Under the ceasefire deal, the truce would extend to seven days and clear the way for the creation of a joint US-Russian coordination centre to begin targeting "terrorist" groups in Syria.

However John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said on Friday the US would not begin coordination plans until humanitarian aid begins to flow into Aleppo.