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Fragile Truce Extended in Syria’s Ravaged Aleppo

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian citizens and firefighters gather at the scene where one of rockets hit the Dubeet hospital in the central neighborhood of Muhafaza in Aleppo, Syria, Tuesday, May 3, 2016.

A 72-hour cease-fire extension in Aleppo has provided some breathing space for residents in the battleground northern Syrian city.

Displaced families returned home, schools reopened and vendors resumed some activities as the truce went into effect on Saturday (00:01 local time).

The city had seen days of heavy fighting that killed nearly 300 civilians, including 57 children, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The United States welcomed the extension of the cessation of hostilities in Aleppo, but continues to seek broader results.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said that the U.S. goal is to get to a point where “we no longer have to count the hours and that the cessation of hostilities is fully respected across Syria.”

His statement Friday came after Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement confirming the extension of the cease-fire.

Earlier in the day, Kirby said the U.S. had not ruled out the prospect of working with Russia to broker more localized truces in Syria, if needed.

The U.S. and Russia are co-chairs of a cease-fire task force. Russia has been using its leverage with the Assad regime and the U.S. has been using its influence with the opposition to try to curb the country’s unrest.

Both countries announced localized truces for Latakia and the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, last week, in a bid to help keep a nationwide cessation of hostilities announced in February from completely unraveling.