There’s a strong possibility that the Syrian ceasefire, which would have passed the magic one week trial period as of tomorrow, is now defunct. At least it’s defunct according to the Syrian military, which resumed barrel bombing Aleppo yesterday and outright said the ceasefire is over today. But as this was a US-Russia agreement negotiated without any Syrian input, it seems only fair that it should be either the US or Russia who gets to formally declare it over, and neither seems to have done so just yet.
Now, in any practical sense, it seems like the ceasefire was doomed from the moment it was signed. But it’s possible that the two principals are hoping to revive their deal on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York this week.
At LobeLog today, I cover the ceasefire’s many failures (it’s an impressive list for a one-week ceasefire, but none greater than the fact that Assad continued to block any humanitarian aid from reaching eastern Aleppo), including the US airstrike that seems to have been the final straw:
A ceasefire that went into effect throughout Syria on September 12 may now be on the verge of collapse. On Saturday, a U.S. airstrike near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor struck Syrian government forces, reportedly killing 62 soldiers, injuring 100 more, and allowing Islamic State (ISIS or IS) forces to make territorial gains (those gains have since apparently been reversed). This marked the first time since the Syrian civil war began in 2011 that U.S. forces had struck the Syrian army, though Washington has long called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s removal from office. A press release issued by U.S. Central Command said that “coalition forces” had intended to strike at IS, not the Syrian army, and that “the coalition airstrike was halted immediately when coalition officials were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military.”
Washington expressed regret for what it termed an “unintentional loss of life of Syrian forces” and said that it would “consider” making condolence payments to the families of those who were caught in the strike. But that sentiment seems to have done little to appease Assad’s government or his Russian patrons. Syria’s state-run SAMA TV station commented that “these attacks confirmed that the U.S. clearly supports the terrorism of Daesh,” using IS’s Arabic acronym, while Moscow called for an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council on Saturday evening.
All the recent talk about US-Russian cooperation in Syria basically has gone down the drain unless the ceasefire can be revived. It’s believed that Moscow really wants some level of military collaboration with Washington if only because they see it as validating their activity in Syria, so maybe they’ll really try to repair the situation this week.