On the heels of U.S.-led airstrikes that killed scores of Syrian soldiers, the Syrian military has said that a week-old ceasefire brokered by the United States and Russia is over.
In a statement issued Monday, the Syrian military put the blame for the collapse on “armed terrorist groups,” a phrase, Reuters reports, that the Syrian government uses “to refer to all insurgents fighting against it.”
The agreement, Bloomberg reports,
had sought to bring seven days of calm and fresh relief to civilians in the besieged city of Aleppo. After that, their goal was for Moscow and Washington to begin an unprecedented joint effort to coordinate air strikes on Islamic extremist groups in Syria while grounding Assad’s air force in those areas.
Separate reporting by Reuters also notes that the ceasefire was “[a]lready widely violated since it took effect.”
Responding to the announcement, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said to “wait” before making an assessment, as “trucks [with humanitarian aid] are moving today to maybe eight locations or more.”
United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien on Monday expresseddisappointment that aid had not reached eastern Aleppo, as a convoy remains in Turkey.
“The people of Syria have suffered long enough. Millions of Syrian civilians continue to face horrific deprivation and violence, especially those trapped in besieged and hard-to-reach areas,” he said.
The Syrian military also denounced the Saturday strikes by the U.S., which had U.K. backing, as a “serious and blatant attack on Syria and its military,” and “firm proof of the U.S. support of Daesh [IS or Islamic State] and other terrorist groups.”
Moscow, which backs President Bashar al-Assad, criticized the attacks as well. The country’s permanent UN representative, Vitaly Churkin, said, “I have never seen such an extraordinary display of American heavy-handedness.”
According to Middle East analyst Derek Davison, “there have been signs from the beginning that this ceasefire was likely to fall apart.” He continues:
The deal was negotiated between Russia and the U.S. with no input, and very little initial buy-in, from either the Assad government or rebel forces opposed to it. Since being implemented last week, the ceasefire has reduced overall violence, but there have been numerous reported violations—which have been another source of U.S.-Russian tension—and on Sunday Assad’s air force dropped barrel bombs onto four residential neighborhoods in rebel-held eastern Aleppo.
Meanwhile, as Bloomberg reports, NATO ally “Turkey is broadening its role in its neighbor’s conflict”:
The Turkish military, which entered Syria last month to push Islamic State and Kurdish separatists from the border area, will expand its offensive to clear a 5,000-square-kilometer (1,931-square-mile) sanctuary, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday. The operation is liable to escalate its conflict with both of those armed groups and is set to be Turkey’s largest incursion since it poured troops into northern Iraq in the 1990s to attack strongholds of its own autonomy-seeking militants.
Earth Institute director Jeffrey D. Sachs has argued that the American public has been kept in the dark about the U.S. role in Syria, and, according to a recent statement by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif)—who gave the sole “no” vote 15 years ago in the U.S. House for the authorization for the use of military force (AUMF),
you know, we have a new war, really, on a new war footing, in Syria, and, minimally, the Congress should be straight with the American people and debate the costs and consequences of it. This 2001 resolution is the legal basis that the administration says gives them the blank check, or gives them the legal basis—I say it’s a blank check—to use force and continue with military action.
The UN estimates that over a quarter of a million Syrians have been killed over the five-year war.