Smoke rises from reported opposition fire from buildings in an eastern government-held neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on October 20, 2016. AFP / GEORGE OURFALIAN
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A cease-fire to allow wounded civilians and rebels to leave besieged parts of Aleppo has been extended into the weekend by Russia, but hoped-for medical evacuations didn't materialize by Friday evening because of a lack of security guarantees, officials and residents said.The cease-fire had been greeted with high hopes by U.N. officials, and the Syrian government opened a new corridor for those wanting to flee the neighborhoods shattered by weeks of Russian and Syrian airstrikes.A U.N. official told the Associated Press that Syrian opposition fighters were blocking the evacuations because the Syrian government and Russia were not holding up their end of the deal and were impeding deliveries of medical and humanitarian supplies into Aleppo.The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said intensive efforts were underway in Damascus, Aleppo, Geneva and Gaziantep, Turkey, to try to move forward on the evacuations.Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Aleppo were refusing to leave the city along the corridors created by the Russians and Syrian forces "despite the gestures of goodwill from Moscow and Damascus".
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