Yes—if Russia decides to press home its advantageby Michael Stephens / February 16, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: We can’t tackle IS without tackling Assad
We are about to see another twist in the tale that is Syria’s seemingly endless war, which has seen an estimated 250,000 Syrians killed and a further 4.3 million flee the country. In a return to the years of the Cold War, the US and Russia sat down in Munich last Friday to hammer out a truce. Currently, Russia is launching airstrikes on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s enemies, while the US is lending its support to certain groups from the same camp. Both sides hoped the proposed agreement would help to bring a “nationwide cessation of hostilities” within a week, after five years of war. (Certain groups including Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, will continue to be targeted in airstrikes from both countries, even once the planned ceasefire kicks in.)
The truce was agreed, and Russia and the US indeed declared that they intended to cease hostilities within a week. The fragility of this proposed agreement (yet to come into effect) was thrown into sharp relief yesterday, when suspected Russian missile strikes hit three hospitals (including one children’s hospital) in northern Syria: two of these in Idlib province, one in Aleppo province. Currently, the ceasefire plan is still in place.
Since the negotiations began, access for humanitarian aid across Syria has been secured, and agencies such as the International Red Cross have gone into action with food convoys and air drops across the country. The UN delivered aid to civilians near the ISIS-held town of Yarmouk, on the outskirts of Damascus, on Sunday. The promise of the truce has already provided partial help for some of Syria’s…