Syrian Ceasefire failed, what now?

By Aram Mirzaei

The “Ceasefire”

September 21, 2016

One week ago I and many other analysts predicted that the ceasefire agreement brokered by the US and Russia last week was doomed to fail. I said this because of the fact that there are no “moderate” rebels, and that any group trying to disassociate itself from Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham (formerly Jabhat Al-Nusra) would commit both political and military suicide. Right from the first day of the implementation, Western backed Jihadists and their allies declared that they would not take part in the cessation of hostilities, which really rendered the whole agreement useless since it became clear that they would use this opportunity to regroup and rearm.

This week long ceasefire was also supposed to allow for humanitarian aid to reach besieged areas such as East Aleppo which is currently under the control of Washington’s “moderate” rebels. Despite the Syrian Army withdrawing up to 1 km north of the imperative Castillo road leading into the eastern parts of Aleppo and handing over the control over the checkpoints in this area to Russian Marines and Syrian Red Crescent Society, the humanitarian aid destined for eastern Aleppo were severely delayed due to constant attacks on the Russian Marines by the Jihadists.[1] [2] In a video posted by RT on their Youtube page, one can clearly see the Russian personnel coming under attack by Jihadist fire, yet despite this, mainstream media in the West shamefully reported that the “Assad regime” were the ones who were guilty of both violating the ceasefire and disrupting the delivery of humanitarian aid. [3] [4]

The Jihadists and their supporters refused to allow for humanitarian aid to be delivered because they refused to acknowledge the ceasefire, instead claiming that both the ceasefire and the humanitarian aid being sent to them was part of a “UN conspiracy” and that they “refuse to accept this humiliating and pathetic aid”. In a video posted online, a rally takes place in eastern Aleppo where Jihadists and their supporters declare that they refuse to accept this “humiliating” aid in the name of the religion (of Islam).[5]

It should clearly be concluded then that these Jihadists and their supporters were not interested in any kind of reduced violence, not even for a week it would seem, with Jihadists clearly showing their intentions of using this ceasefire to break the siege of Aleppo by even attacking Russian Marines.

This ceasefire was doomed from the start because Washington will not and cannot separate any “moderates” from the rest of the Jihadists. In an Op-Ed posted on RT in June, experts agree that Washington has no control over its proxies in Syria, with Journalist Willy van Damme saying that Al-Nusra and “moderate rebels” have been cooperating for about five years fighting together against the Syrian government. “To think that they would split from Al-Nusra is dreaming,” he added.

In another video posted online last week, the “spiritual leader” of the Jihadist Jaysh Al-Fateh coalition Abullah Muhaysani, a renowned Saudi Wahhabi cleric who illegally entered Syria in 2013, declared that

“the other factions’ [moderates] rejection of the ceasefire is not only a slap in the face of Kerry and Lavrov, but it is also a slap in the face of all those who are trying to incite the factions against each other”.

He goes on to reiterate the unity among the plethora of Jihadist factions working together as one against a common enemy, the Syrian government. [6]

The US-led Coalition massacre of Syrian Army personnel

As if the rejection of the ceasefire and the blocking of humanitarian aid wasn’t proof enough that the ceasefire was doomed to fail, Washington also did its utmost to make sure that it didn’t by flagrantly attacking the Syrian Army in the besieged city of Deir Ezzor. Although I was shocked, I was not surprised to read on Saturday night that the US-led coalition had struck the Syrian Army with phosphorous bombs over the Jabal Al- Thardeh area in southwestern Deir Ezzor, killing at least 62 and injuring over 100 Syrian Army soldiers.

Washington being used to dishonesty, immediately tried to put the blame first on Russia with the Pentagon claiming that they had informed Russian of the upcoming strike and that he bombardment only concluded when Russia had told Washington that it was possibly targeting the Syrian Army and not the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Some hours later Russia flatly denied the earlier CENTCOM press release claim of Russian knowledge about the bombardment beforehand with Major General Igor Konashenkov of the Russian Defense Ministry adding that

“If the airstrike was caused by the wrong coordinates of targets then it’s a direct consequence of the stubborn unwillingness of the American side to coordinate with Russia in its actions against terrorist groups in Syria”. [7]

Russia, furious with the Americans, immediately summoned the UN Security Council for an emergency meeting on the matter with the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova being blasting Washington as she said that

“If previously we had suspicions that Al-Nusra Front is protected this way, now, after today’s airstrikes on the Syrian army we come to a really terrifying conclusion for the entire world: The White House is defending IS [Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL]”

“We demand a full and detailed explanation from Washington. That explanation must be given at the UN Security Council,” Zakharova added.[8]

But there was no explanation from Washington. Instead, Washington offered us the despicable US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power. Instead of explaining the actions of the US-led coalition’s massacre of Syrian Army soldiers, she walked out of Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin’s speech and later on went on to address reporters with nonsense about “the crimes of the Assad Regime and Russia”. She even mocked the Russians decision to call for an emergency meeting, calling it a “stunt”. [9]

“It is clear that the United States must come up with some very serious actions. What actions, I can not say now, but what I saw today, unfortunately, was very concerning, as my American colleague Samantha Power behaved very strange at the least,” – said Russia’s permanent representative to the UN Churkin about the results of the consultations of the Security Council.[10]

Churkin was correct to say that

“in all my years in the United Nations, that is over 10 years, and all my years in international life, which is over 40 years, I have never seen such an extraordinary display of American heavy-handedness as we have seen today”.

And I understand him. One look at Samantha Power is enough to understand that she is mentally deranged. Her behaviour was shameful for a representative of a leading country at the highest international body, behaving as a teenager that has just been dragged out of bed with a hangover.

If it wasn’t clear before this incident, it should be clear by now that Washington cannot be trusted, ever. Moscow should now understand that it can never reach a deal with Washington that will hold, because Washington is only interested in weakening Syria as much as possible, and will go to lengths unimaginable to achieve it, one way or another.

It therefore comes as no surprise that according to an Iranian military source, ISIL launched an offensive on the Jabal Al- Thardeh area just 7 minutes after the US led airstrikes, who added that that the air and ground assault were highly coordinated. Initially ISIL captured the Jabal Al-Thardeh area but were later repelled after a Syrian Army counterattack backed by Russian airstrikes, that same night. The source said the simultaneous raid of the ISIL terrorists immediately after the coalition airstrikes is the best evidence of the high coordination done between the US and the terrorists.[11]

In Iran’s view, this flagrant attack on Syrian Army personnel violated the truce; “We strongly denounce the US measures, and do not believe that it was a military mistake,” said Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iranian Parliamentary Director General for International Affairs on Sunday during a meeting with Syria’s Ambassador to Tehran, Adnan Hassan Mahmoud.“Attacking an army which is battling terrorism means backstabbing and helping Daesh,” he added.

Iran reiterated its support for Syria on Monday when deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari travelled to Damascus to meet with Syrian officials. “Iran is determined to provide Syria all the possible facilities in its fateful fight against terrorism,” Jaberi Ansari said in a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. He added that “strategic and one-of-a-kind” relations between Iran and Syria go beyond the two nations’ interests and are based on common views and understanding of the threats facing all regional nations such as terrorism and extremism.[12]

One can conclude that the attack on the Syrian Army by the US-led coalition was indeed intentional, which leaves us with the question of why they would do such a thing? A quick look at a map of who controls what in the Deir Ezzor province gives us a clue. The province of Deir Ezzor in southeastern Syria (see map below) is mostly controlled by the ISIL terrorist group except for parts of the city of Deir Ezzor that has been under siege for years now, with ISIL facing stiff resistance from the Syrian Army comprised of the heroic 104th Brigade of the Republican Guard, led by the iconic Druze Major General Issam Zahreddine and the 137th Artillery Brigade. To the northeastern part of the province, there is a Kurdish/FSA presence as a result of the US-backed Kurdish-led “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) largely expelling ISIL from the neighbouring Al-Hasakah province earlier this year.

SDF has since made their intentions publicly clear that they intend to advance on both the province and city of Deir Ezzor. This is something that Washington sees as an opportunity to carve up the country in order to achieve its ultimate goal; to separate Syria from Iran indefinitely.

Washington has previously made it clear that if it cannot achieve its plan A; regime change, it will go for its plan B; to balkanize the country and help to create a Kurdish and/or Sunni state in eastern Syria. Achieving this will “isolate” the Syrian government and its Lebanese allies Hezbollah from Iran, thus protecting Israel, Washington’s main imperial ally in the region.

Attacking the Syrian Army, and allowing ISIL to capture the city will make Deir Ezzor a probable target for the US-backed proxies to attack and annex. It does not matter for Washington if 100 000 civilians are trapped along with the Syrian Army personnel stationed there, and that they will meet a fate far worse than anyone of us can imagine if the city falls into terrorist hands, as long as Washington achieves its goals, it is content with whatever price the Syrian people must pay for Washington’s imperial ambitions.

What happens now?

The Syrian Arab Army’s High Command announced on Monday that the nationwide ceasefire is over after a 7-day period. “Rebel forces committed more than 300 violations by targeting residents and the Syrian military around the country,” the High Command added. Several civilians and military personnel were killed as a result of these ceasefire violations committed by the Jihadist forces. The High command also declared that Jihadist groups had taken advantage of the ceasefire to regroup and attack Syrian military positions, while the Army had done its utmost to implement the truce with the highest degree of professionalism, but that ultimately it had to respond to the provocations against the Syrian Armed Forces.[13]

As soon as the ceasefire expired at 7 pm Damascus time yesterday, fighting began to rage on in the Aleppo, Hama and Damascus provinces, with both the Syrian Army and the Jihadist groups launching offensives on different fronts. The Russian Air Force also began targeting Jihadists in Aleppo who led by Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham were trying to launch a new offensive. Meanwhile on Monday, new accusations were made by Washington and its vassals against Russia and Syria, claiming that they had struck a UN aid convoy heading for Aleppo City, an incident that the Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed as an attempt to distract attention from the US-led coalition’s bombardment of the Syrian troops on September 17. [14]

“We are considering, with resentment and indignation, attempts by some foreign curators of rebel units and terrorists in Syria to put the blame for the incident on the Russian and Syrian Aerospace Forces who allegedly bombarded a relief convoy,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“Such attempts, which are unconfirmed by any facts, are designed, among other things, to distract attention from a strange ‘error’ made by pilots of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition on September 17 when its planes bombed the Syrian government troops positions near Deir ez-Zor,” the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed.

In fact, it has been established that this was not even a UN aid convoy that had been attacked, but rather it was a Syrian Red Crescent convoy that was attempting to deliver weapons to the Jihadists. The humanitarian convoy that was attacked on Monday in the Syrian province of Aleppo was followed by a militant group’s pickup truck carrying a large-caliber mortar launcher, the Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Tuesday.

“Analysis of video records from drones of yesterday’s movement of the humanitarian convoy across Aleppo’s territories controlled by militants has revealed new details. It is clearly seen in the video that a terrorists’ pickup truck with a towed large-caliber mortar is moving along with the convoy,” he said.[15]

I am in agreement with the Russian Foreign Ministry in their analysis over the situation. It is clear that these accusations are intended to lay the blame for the failure of the ceasefire on Russia and the Syrian government, and try to divert attention from their own crimes in Deir Ezzor last week. It therefore comes as no surprise that a senior Obama administration official speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity said that “We don’t know if it can be salvaged,” when speaking of the collapsing ceasefire. “At this point the Russians have to demonstrate very quickly their seriousness of purpose because otherwise there will be nothing to extend and nothing to salvage,” he added.

Washington was never interested in a ceasefire, rather it wanted to give its Jihadist proxies time to regroup and regain their strength after a month of hammering by the Syrian Army, especially in Aleppo. During this entire week, Washington and the Western mainstream media have been looking for excuses to lay the blame on Russia and the Syrian government for the failure to implement the ceasefire. From an Iranian point of view (and my own), these ceasefires have always been useless because Iran has always maintained that Washington can never be trusted. Instead of benefitting the Syrian Army and its allies, the ceasefires have served to not only benefit the Jihadists, but also to sow discord between Russia and Iran who on several occasions have made it clear that Moscow’s constant faith in Washington and Secretary Kerry endangers the war effort against terrorism.

It remains to be seen now what will happen with this ceasefire agreement, but from the looks of it, it is all but over as the Syrian Army and its allies have restarted their operations across the country. Hopefully, Moscow have proved once and for all that there is no way to separate any “moderate opposition” from Jihadist rebels and that they must now all be deemed as legitimate targets for aerial bombardment. Moscow must hold nothing back and coordinate more than ever with its Syrian and Iranian allies on the ground in order to defeat this terrorist plague that has been wreaking havoc in Syria for almost six years now.

%d bloggers like this: