Damage from barrel bomb in Aleppo's district
Damage from barrel bomb in Aleppo's district Reuters

The Syrian regime is willing to suspend its aerial bombardment of Aleppo for six weeks to allow for a localized humanitarian ceasefire, a UN diplomat said Tuesday, according to AFP.

Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations' special envoy to Syria, announced the initiative during private meetings with the Security Council.

"The government of Syria has indicated to me its willingness to halt all aerial bombing and artillery shelling for a period of six weeks all over the city of Aleppo from a date we'll announce from Damascus," de Mistura told journalists after addressing the Security Council.

De Mistura, an Italian-Swedish diplomat, recently went to Syria and met President Bashar Al-Assad.

He said he'd asked the regime to facilitate a UN mission to identify a district in Aleppo to serve as a trial area for a ceasefire.

"We'll see if the freeze holds and can be replicated," he said.

Rebel fighters who hold parts of Aleppo but have no air power would also be sought out and asked to suspend rocket and mortar fire for six weeks.

"The purpose is to spare as many civilians as possible while we try to find a political solution," said de Mistura.

He acknowledged a ceasefire would be tough to achieve, given past failures, but said there was "a glimmer of hope."

Appointed as the UN's special envoy for the Syria crisis last July, de Mistura briefed the Security Council on initial findings of his mission aimed at ending the four-year conflict that has devastated Syria.

De Mistura had last year proposed to Syria the setting up of ceasefire zones to allow the distribution of humanitarian aid in Aleppo. Assad said back in November that the proposal to implement the idea in Aleppo was "worth studying," but no progress had been reported since then.

The city has been divided since July 2012 between loyalist fighters in the west and rebels controlling eastern sectors.

Aleppo has been the target of “barrel bomb” attacks, which the regime constantly uses against rebel held areas of the city.

In the latest fighting in the city, nine people, including three children, were killed Monday in rebel fire on a government-held neighborhood.

On Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Syrian government forces have gained ground in Aleppo and are seeking to cut a vital rebel supply line.

According to data released last week, some 210,000 people have been killed in Syria since civil war broke out there in 2011. At least 2 million people have been injured, and 1.5 million have been left disabled in some way because of the war. 10,664 children and 6,783 women have been killed.