WATCH: 'I was offered the opportunity to run' - Syria's first lady says she will not leave

British-born Asma al Assad has spoken for the first time since the war began

WATCH: 'I was offered the opportunity to run' - Syria's first lady says she will not leave

Image: YouTube/Syrian Presidency

Syria's first lady has said she refused to leave the country because she did not want people to lose confidence in her husband.

British-born Asma al Assad told the Russia-24 news channel: "I never thought of being anywhere else at all...Yes, I was offered the opportunity to leave Syria, or rather to run from Syria.

"These offers included guarantees of safety and protection for my children, and even financial security.

"It doesn't take a genius to know what these people were really after. It was never about my wellbeing or my children - it was a deliberate attempt to shatter people's confidence in their president."

The 33-minute interview was re-posted on YouTube by the Syrian Presidency.

She was speaking as Russian and Syrian planes halted their bombing of the city of Aleppo ahead of Russia's proposed ceasefire later this week.

The air raids were suspended at 10.00am local time, Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu revealed, saying the ceasefires should allow opposition fighters to leave the eastern part of the city and to allow the opening up of humanitarian aid corridors.

The brief "humanitarian pause" planned for between 8.00am and 4.00pm on Thursday in what was once Syria's most important business city is to allow civilians and fighters to get out of the city, he said.

"We need all weapons to fall silent"

However, the United Nations has said it does not yet have enough guarantees to carry out humanitarian work or medical evacuations from Aleppo.

UN humanitarian spokesman Jens Laerke said: "When the weapons fall silent, we need all weapons to fall silent. We need assurances from all parties to the conflict, not just a unilateral announcement that this will happen.

"We need everybody to give us those assurances before it is immediately useful for us to do anything meaningful."

The Kremlin is calling on Western powers to support its initiative in Aleppo.

Mr Shoigu told a news conference: "Russia now expects its take the baton and assist this humanitarian operation, to make sure the bandits leave Aleppo, especially its eastern part, in order for a real process of separation of the so-called moderate opposition from terrorist groups to begin."

Aleppo, Syria's largest city and once its commercial hub, has suffered intense aerial bombardment since the start of the Syria conflict in 2011.

A ceasefire brokered by Russia and the US collapsed last month as Syrian forces launched an offensive on eastern Aleppo under the cover of Russian warplanes.
The US has expressed its doubts about the latest pause in fighting.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said from Washington: "If there is actually an eight-hour pause in the unremitting suffering of the people of Aleppo, that would be a good thing.

"But frankly, it's a bit too little, too late."