Residents in rebel held eastern Aleppo have largely held-out against an offer from the Syrian government and its Russian backers to leave the city via a humanitarian corridor, following a unilateral ceasefire.

After pounding rebel-held positions in the city since the breakdown of a six-day-long ceasefire between combatants in June and killing hundreds every week, the regime of Bashar al-Assad announced a unilateral ceasefire on Thursday (21 October) and then extended what it referred to as a "humanitarian pause".

Footage broadcast on Syrian state television showed bulldozers clearing the Castello Road, the main artery into Aleppo, the largest city in the country before the start of civil war. Buses and ambulances were parked by the road waiting to take evacuees, the Associated Press reported.

However, the UN said the lack of security in the city, as rebel fighters refused to abide by the truce meant proposed deliveries of medical and humanitarian supplies into Aleppo could not go ahead.

Fierce fighting was reported along the Castello Road to the north in Damascus' suburbs. According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there were casualties among rebels and government forces. Intense clashes and shelling erupted in the Jobar district.

Rebels in east Aleppo rejected the truce on the grounds claiming the pause was an act of psychological warfare, meant to trick the opposition fighters into surrendering. On Thursday, 20 October, helicopters dropped leaflets over eastern Aleppo, saying that this is "the road to the nation".

"We are ready for help. Take the opportunity," they said and carried an image of a green bus or a dead rebel fighter emblazoned with the words "this could be the end".

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon told an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly as many as 500 people had been killed and nearly 2,000 injured since the Syrian government launched its offensive in Aleppo on September 23.

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A mosque where forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are stationed in Aleppo's government-controlled area of al-Masharqa Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters