ALEPPO, Syria, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Russia on Thursday began another humanitarian pause of airstrikes to allow rebels and civilians to flee the Syrian city of Aleppo, a cease-fire the Kremlin extended by an additional 24 hours.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the extension to the cessation of hostilities, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said. The United Nations said Russia would continue holding an 11-hour ceasefire every day until Saturday but Russia has only confirmed the 24-hour extension.
Jan Egeland, chairman of the United Nations and International Syria Support Group's Task Force on Humanitarian Access in Syria, said he hopes hundreds of Aleppo's sick and injured residents would be evacuated by the deadline with the help of the World Health Organization and the Red Cross by Friday.
"We believe we now have all of the green lights that we need both from the Russians and the government and from the armed opposition groups," Egeland said of the cease-fire, but added that "this is Syria, so everything can go wrong at every possible opportunity."
Despite Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov on Wednesday declaring Russia would not extend the cessation of hostilities from 8 hours, Russia announced it would stop launching Aleppo airstrikes for 11 hours on Thursday. The cease-fire, including the additional 24 hours that began when Putin ordered the extension, is scheduled to end at 4 p.m. local time.
Representatives of the United Nations, the United States, Doctors Without Borders, world leaders and international humanitarian groups said 8 hours is not enough time to deliver humanitarian aid to Aleppo's vulnerable residents.
Ryabkov previously said Assad's enemies would "exploit the humanitarian pauses to regroup and obtain reinforcements," which was the reason Russia initially said it would not extend the length of time.
Russia, a key ally of Assad, began carrying out airstrikes in Syria in September 2015. Russia has targeted the Islamic State as well as Syrian rebels who oppose Assad's regime. Some rebels Russia has attacked are considered moderate forces by the United States.
Since September, about 2,700 people have been killed or injured in Aleppo when the Assad's regime surrounded the rebel-held eastern section of Aleppo and launched an attack backed by Russian airstrikes. About 250,000 civilians are trapped in Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
"Silence is taking over Aleppo after the cease-fire announced by Assad and Putin," the U.K.-based human rights group said in a statement.