No end in sight for Syria’s War

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The Syrian War has become more miserable with each passing month. What ever deal the US, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Russia and its allies were supposed to negotiate as regards to creating “zones of safety” for refugees has come to naught. There is no improvement as regards to the faith of the Syrian people! The forces of President Bashir Al Assad continue to push against the rebels with the Russian forces providing cover to their advance. One United Nations official said that despite a decrease in civilians living under siege the war continues to take a toll on human life. According to the man in question UN Humanitarian advisor Jan Egeland, millions of civilians were still be caught up in the seven-year old conflict and many who escaped battle zones had to seek shelter in overcrowded camps for the displaced in Idlib in the North West.

The war has been going President Bashar al-Assad’s way since Russia intervened on his side in 2015. From holding less than a fifth of Syria in 2015, Assad has recovered to control the largest chunk of the country with Russian and Iranian help. The Idlib region remains the largest populated area of Syria in the hands of insurgents fighting the Damascus government. Syrians have poured into Idlib at an accelerating rate over the last two years from areas recaptured by the army. Egeland said about 11,000 Syrians are still under siege and two million are hard to reach with humanitarian aid, compared to 625,000 under siege and 4.6 million who were hard to reach a year ago.

“The notion that it is ebbing, this war, is completely wrong. This war is on and it’s still in the midst of the civilian population,” Egeland told reporters. Egeland added there were reports of deals to evacuate people from some of the remaining sieges including from the former Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk south of Damascus.

The Kremlin has been at the forefront of ensuring that Assad and his men aren’t forced from power. Russian President Vladimir Putin considers Damascus to be the only true ally among the Arab nations Moscow actually has. The risk to the safety of civilians caught up in the war has not prevented Putin from allowing Assad’s forces to have free range of having a major onslaught on Idlib province. The matter of what would happen to those 11,000 Syrians who have been unable to receive the humanitarian aid in the form of food and medical supplies. The main casualties of such tragedies are women and children. Thousands of Syrians have no place of safety left to go.

People gather around a truck carrying food aid given by UN’s World Food Programme in Raqqa, Syria April 26, 2018. REUTERS/Aboud Hamam

The Syrian war is one in which there are competing factions serving as the proxies for foreign powers such as Russia, Iran and the United States. The Iranians themselves have also suffered casualties at the hands of rebels.

FILE: A Syrian army tank on patrol. Picture: AFP

The Syrian army’s on pockets between Homs and Hama – the most populous remaining besieged area in Syria – included air strikes and artillery, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Reinforcements arrived in government-held areas before the bombardment, which targeted Rastan, the biggest town in the pocket, and several nearby villages, the Observatory said. Syrian rebels hold large swathes of both northwest and southwest Syria. An alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias backed by the United States holds large parts of northern and eastern Syria after an offensive against Islamic State last year. On Sunday, that alliance, the Syrian Democratic Forces, said it had recaptured several villages that pro-government forces had seized from it in eastern Syria. Rebel territory in southwest Syria, near the borders with Jordan and Israel, is part of a so-called “de-escalation zone” agreed by the United States and Jordan with Assad’s main military ally Russia.

The Syrians themselves have had no actual say in how the war itself should end or what the future of Syria should be. The nation’s territorial integrity has been deeply compromised by the presence of both Russian, American, Iranian and proxy forces. Although the Americans and the Russians along with the Kurdish and Arab rebel forces if they are “moderate” continue to remain they will form a strong check to the foreign militias and proxy groups supported by Iran. The conflict as we know has dragged on for six years. Regime forces capture some territories and the Syrian Democratic Forces or the rebels capture other territories. The question of who the victors of this civil war will be, will remain unanswered as the only end to this conflict will be the carving up of Syria in to minor statelets.

The creation of a “de-escalation zone” along the Jordanian border may be a good place for some of the Syrians to stay, but most of the Syrian people have found themselves stuck between a boulder and a hard place. I don’t think Syria will be around as a nation state by 2040.