Syrian Officials, Rebels Reach Deal To Restore Electricity to Aleppo

(Los Angeles Times/MCT) -

The Syrian government and rebels struck a rare agreement Monday to restore electricity in Aleppo province, cut off by the opposition for more than a week, in exchange for a cessation of airstrikes by the military.

Several rebel groups severed the electricity for the province, demanding that the government cease its bombardment on opposition areas with barrel bombs. The oil drums filled with TNT have ravaged the city of Aleppo and its suburbs for four months and have led to a mass exodus of residents. Activists estimate that more than 2,000 civilians have been killed in the bombings alone.

The deal is scheduled to go into effect Tuesday.

Truces have become common around the capital, Damascus, as the military blockades have led opposition-held areas to agree to lay down arms in exchange for food and medicine. However, rebels in the north have long rejected any calls for cease-fires.

But the months of unrelenting bombardment, which have left some parts of Aleppo almost entirely deserted, led to the ultimatum by the rebels. They had threatened that if the government did not relent, the electricity outages would be extended to Damascus and the coastal province of Latakia, a stronghold for President Bashar Assad.

“The regime recently began dropping the explosive barrels on the civilians in an insane way,” said Yaser Ataee, spokesman for the Sharia Committee in Aleppo, which reached the agreement with the government.

The partial truce, which will have no effect on ongoing clashes between the two sides, comes on the heels of a weekslong offensive by the rebels. The fighting has seen the opposition regain the upper hand against the military in Aleppo, cutting off a strategic reinforcement route and besieging the government-controlled parts of the city, though at least one passage remains open for civilians and humanitarian needs.