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Children play near upright buses barricading a street, which serve as protection from snipers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Aleppo's rebel-controlled Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood, Syria April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian air force and Syrian army are preparing for a joint operation to liberate Aleppo, Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halaki told visiting Moscow lawmakers on Sunday, Russian news agencies reported.

"We, together with our Russian partners, are preparing for an operation to liberate Aleppo and to block all illegal armed groups which have not joined or broken the ceasefire deal," he was quoted as saying by TASS news agency.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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