December 13, 2016 / 8:09 PM / 8 months ago

U.S. says it has seen Aleppo ceasefire reports, cannot confirm them

People carry their belongings as they flee deeper into the remaining rebel-held areas of Aleppo, Syria December 13, 2016.Abdalrhman Ismail

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it had seen reports of a ceasefire for the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo brokered by Turkey and Russia and would welcome that development if it led to a halt in bombing and allowed people to leave the area.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said he had no reason to believe the ceasefire reports were not true but could not independently confirm them.

"Obviously if it is true and there has been a ceasefire arrangement reached that not only stops the bombing and the violence but allows people to safely leave Aleppo, we would welcome it," Kirby told a daily briefing.

A Turkish government source said earlier on Tuesday that fighters and their families, along with civilians who have thrown in their lot with the rebels, will have until Wednesday evening to quit the city.

Asked if the United States had known that Turkey and Russia were in discussions on a ceasefire, Kirby said: "I'm not aware that we had any indications that there were bilateral discussions to reach this kind of arrangement. So I don't know that there was any prior knowledge."

He added that "it matters a lot less to us who or how a ceasefire is arranged or reached and much more that one is arranged and reached."

Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Eric Walsh and Jonathan Oatis

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