On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, announced yet another ceasefire in Aleppo. The agreement was made with Turkey, who has backed the opposing rebel forces. It seems that this ceasefire hasn’t even lasted a day before its end, as reports of rebel fighting occurred after midnight in western Syria. Warplanes bombed the nation’s northwestern region, monitors said.
This ceasefire was meant to bring new life into talks of peace between the Assad regime and the various rebel forces, as several have already failed in 2016. In our last article on the conflict, around 8,000 civilians, soldiers, and rebels alike were evacuated from opposition-controlled areas of the city before the ceasefire was halted, in a similar manner. The state started heating up with conflict back in 2011, when peaceful protests calling for Assad’s resignation escalated into full-scale civil warfare. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, combined deaths in Syria caused by the civil war exceed 420,000.
The agreement made between Russia and Turkey marks the first ceasefire in 2016 that does not involve the United Nations or the United States. Russia seems desperate to broker a peace agreement that will stick, but maintaining the truce appears to be increasingly difficult, as rebels continue to battle and bombers continue to blanket areas in fire.
Warplanes ordered by the Assad-controlled Syrian government completed 20 raids against rebel forces in towns along the boundary between Idlib and Hama, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. A rebel official said that the battles took place overnight on Friday, just after the third ceasefire agreement was made. Helicopters also attacked the rebel-dominated Wadi Barada Valley, just northwest of Damascus, according to a report by the British-based Observatory. A Hezbollah media group, supporters of the Assad Syrian state, denied any Syrian government air strikes on the region.
A Nour al-Din al-Zinki rebel official said that government soldiers attempted to advance in the southern Aleppo province. The Syrian government has yet to comment on Friday’s continued fighting. As a matter of fact, Assad appeared on Syrian state television moments ago, and offered no comments directly relating to the ceasefire agreement.
The new agreement brokered on Thursday was signed by a number of insurgent groups, Russia’s Defense Ministry said. A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army (FSA), an alliance of rebel forces, said it would abide by the terms of the ceasefire.
The potential collapse of this third-tried ceasefire threatens to erode relations between Russia and Turkey, the two nations responsible for brokering the deal. In an effort to show the cooperation between the two countries and ease hostilities, on Friday Turkish armed forces said that Russian aircraft had completed three air strikes against the Islamic State (IS) in the al-Bab region of northern Syria.
Turkey is supporting insurgents fighting against the Islamic State, which naturally is an enemy of all forces involved in the civil war. IS forces are loosely spread throughtou the entire state of Syria, and are an infamous fundamentalist terror group, slaughtering innocent civilians throughout the state and the Middle-East. The Turkish military has been a huge supporter of the Syrian rebellion, but it seems that the goal of overthrowing Assad has taken a backseat. The expanding Kurdish influence in northern Syria poses an even larger threat to Turkey, as the northern Syrian border lies adjacent to the Turkish nation. Kurds and Turks have had a long-standing hatred of each other, and Turkey sure as hell doesn’t want to see true Kurdish power so close to home (regardless of the fact that Kurds are fighting a common enemy in the Islamic State).
Turkey has also demanded that the Hezbollah forces remove themselves from Syria, to the frustration of Iran, another supporter of the Assad regime. Hezbollah has been fighting alongside Syrian state military forces against the insurgents. On Thursday a Hezbollah official said that the party’s military would remain in the nation.
The United States was not involved in the current ceasefire agreement, marking the first major diplomatic effort in the Middle-East to not involve the US in modern history. Russia said that the United States could join in on the Syrian peace effort once President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated on January 20th. Russia also said that it wants Egyptian leadership to join, along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, Jordan, and the United Nations. Trump has said that he would cooperate with Russia in an effort to fight terrorism throughout the Middle-East, but wasn’t sure what such a policy would look like in fruition. American national security organizations and the Pentagon are hesitant to cooperate closely with Russia, which makes sense given the multiple accusations of hacking and election fraud in the US presidential election.
Despite the efforts of Russia and Turkey, the conflict still continues. It doesn’t appear that the insurgency in Syria is going to give up anytime soon, despite their officials claiming peace after the ceasefire was brokered. Assad’s Syrian government certainly isn’t going to let go of any control of the state, with warplanes bombing rebel-controlled areas just after the deal was made.
Perhaps it will take a collective coalition of nations to work out an agreement that will end the violence for good. Even if the world’s nations can assist in a permanent peace treaty, in the end, Assad will most likely only give up control of Syria in his death.