Syrian combatants yet to withdraw from Aleppo road

September 15, 2016 3:48 AM EDT

Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are seen near barricades after they advanced on the southern side of the Castello road in Aleppo, Syria, in this handout picture provided by SANA on July 28, 2016. SANA/Handout via REUTERS

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian government forces and rebels had yet to withdraw from a road to be used to deliver aid to Aleppo on Thursday morning, a war monitor and a senior rebel official said, a step that must happen for the delivery to take place under a U.S.-Russian deal.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Director Rami Abdulrahman said each side wanted the withdrawal from the Castello Road to happen simultaneously. The Britain-based Observatory follows the war using a network of contacts in Syria.

Russia said on Wednesday it was preparing for the Syrian army and rebel fighters to begin a staged withdrawal from the road.

"The regime is ready ... to withdraw but will not move unless the opposition begins to withdraw," Abdulrahman said.

A senior Syrian rebel official in Aleppo said a withdrawal by rebel factions was under debate "because the agreement stipulates that the regime must respect the truce but that did not happen."

"Even yesterday it targeted the area surrounding the Castello," the official told Reuters.

There was no comment from state media or the army about the proposed withdrawal. A Syrian military source said on Wednesday that armed groups had violated the ceasefire 15 times in the Aleppo area in a 24-hour period.

(Reporting by Tom Perry; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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