A ceasefire carefully brokered by the US and Russia came to an abrupt end yesterday morning. The ceasefire was violated over 300 times by US-backed rebel groups, according to the Syrian government, as well as other violations carried out by both the US and Israel. The ceasefire was brokered earlier this month during peace talks in Geneva and was signed by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, and the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, though the US strongly expressed doubt over whether the ceasefire would ultimately be successful. Terrorist groups were officially blamed for the end of the ceasefire, who, according to the Syrian Army and the Russian Defense Minister, took advantage of the truce and continued attacks on residential areas and military sites as well as Aleppo. However, direct and “accidental” attacks on the Syrian Army by both Israel and the US threatened, not only end the ceasefire even sooner but to ignite an international war.
One day after the ceasefire began, an Israeli warplane and drone were allegedly shot down by the Syrian government after Israeli attacked the Syrian army in the south of the country, which then sparked retaliation. Israel, which has been illegally involved in the Syrian civil war for years, denied its planes were shot down but confirmed that they had attacked Syrian military positions. In the past, Israel has not officially recognized many of its operations within Syria and claims to be involved in the country in order to “prevent [Syria] from becoming a front against [Israel].” Israel actively opposes the Assad regime in Syria, but has, so far, avoided being drug into Syria’s civil war.
Arguably the most concerning event during the ceasefire happened last Saturday. Early Saturday, Russia had accused the US of failing to force rebels under its control to obey the ceasefire. Russian appeals went unanswered, causing senior Russian General Staff official Viktor Poznikhir to say that the truce was being used as an opportunity to let militants, including the Islamic State regroup, resupply, and prepare an offensive against government troops. That statement was supported by what followed. US-coalition forces bombed a Syrian government airbase, resulting in the death of at least 62 Syrian army troops and over 100 injured. The bombing “paved the way” for ISIS militants to advance in the area, which has been highly contested in recent months.
Immediately after the airstrikes, ISIS militants advanced an offensive, suggesting that they had known that the bombing would be taking place. The response from Russia and Syria was furious, with some saying that the US knew what they were doing. The US, however, maintains the airstrike was a mistake. If the airstrike indeed was a mistake, it shows that the US-coalition continues to refuse to coordinate with Russia or the Syrian government in planning their attacks.
Is the US letting anti-Russian sentiment cloud their judgment in effectively fighting ISIS or is the US actively supporting the Islamic State? Though it can’t be said for sure, it is suspicious that so much media attention following Saturday’s bombings have been focused on painting Russia as the villain in Syria. Just today, the US accused Syria and Russia of bombing a humanitarian aid convoy near Aleppo, a charge both countries aggressively deny. Russian military footage was released showing a rebel pick-up truck filled with mortars driving alongside the convoy. The convoy was passing through an area where the al-Nusra front, a group of rebels backed by the US and linked to Al-Qaeda, launched an attack against Aleppo.
Who was more likely to have attacked the convoy, Syria’s own army or rebels linked to one of the most infamous terror groups in the entire Middle East? Regardless of whether ISIS is actively US-backed or is helped by US incompetence, the fact remains that the US’ reckless policy in Syria nearly just started the next world war.
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