The Russian Defense Ministry says a 48-hour cessation of hostilities has been declared in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

In past months, Aleppo has been witnessing fierce fighting and bombardment, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of people on both sides of the contested city.

Russia says the truce went into effect after midnight Wednesday. Several similar truces have been declared in the city in recent months.

Opposition activists reported sporadic shelling on the city in the early hours of Thursday.

Rebels seized part of Aleppo from forces loyal to President Bashar Assad in 2012. Assad's forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, have nearly encircled rebel-held parts of the city in recent months.