Syrian army 'suspends operations' in Aleppo to allow civilian evacuations

Government forces have retaken three quarters of eastern Aleppo in recent weeks

Russia says Syria's army has halted its attacks in Aleppo to allow trapped civilians to be evacuated.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says around 8,000 people would be taken out of the besieged city.

Government forces have retaken three quarters of eastern Aleppo in recent weeks - areas rebels have controlled for four years.

However, despite the claims of suspended attacks, there were still reports of bombings and shellings in the city.

Journalist Zouhir al-Shimale told Al-Jazeera: "The bombardment and shelling is … unbelievable. They are gaining areas every day. Until now the attacks are still ongoing in the city."

Rebel fighters yesterday called for a five-day ceasefire for medical and civilian evacuations from eastern Aleppo.

According to human rights monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 80,000 people have already fled Aleppo's eastern enclaves since the Syrian army mounted a new offensive in mid-November.

Before the renewed assault, an estimated 250,000 people remained in eastern Aleppo, which was surrounded by government forces in mid-July.

Aleppo was Syria's largest city and its economic hub before the war.