Russia says 48-hour truce reached in Aleppo

They were killed in less than 24 hours of fierce clashes between pro-regime forces, extremists and rebels

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The Russian Defense Ministry said a 48-hour cessation of hostilities has been declared in the divided northern Syrian city of Aleppo and activists reported a relative calm in Syria's largest city on Thursday.

In past months, Aleppo has witnessed fierce fighting and bombardment, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of people on both sides of the contested city.

Russia said the truce went into effect after midnight Wednesday. Several similar truces have been declared in the city in recent months.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the city was calm early Thursday but that government warplanes later bombarded several rebel-held neighborhoods in Aleppo.

At least 70 fighters dead in Aleppo clashes

Earlier, At least 70 fighters have been killed in less than 24 hours of fierce clashes between pro-regime forces, extremists and rebels in Syria's Aleppo province, a monitor said Wednesday.

Pro-regime fighters -- backed by regime and Russian air strikes -- retook the villages of Zaytan and Khalasa to the southwest of Aleppo city after losing them several hours earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

European fighters on the ground

The Syrian government said on Wednesday French and German forces were present in northern Syria, an accusation denied by Germany.

Syrian state media said the government strongly condemned the presence of French and German forces in Ain al-Arab, also known as Kobani, and Manbij.

"Syria...considers it explicit and unjustified aggression towards (Syria's) sovereignty and independence," state news agency SANA quoted the foreign ministry as saying.

Germany's defence ministry denied that German special forces were in northern Syria and said repeated claims by the Syrian government to this effect were not and had never been true.

"There are no German special forces in Syria. The accusation is false," a ministry spokesman said.

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