Syrian Ceasefire Breaks Down At Aleppo

The Syrian ceasefire is breaking down in Aleppo, as the deal brokered by Russia and the United States shows signs of strain. The breakdown threatens a planned United Nations effort to provide aid to Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, where upwards of 250,000 people are trapped by the hostilities. The below video shows the eerie but anxious calm that fell over Aleppo as the ceasefire began.

The Syrian ceasefire began Monday amid high hopes from the international community. The ceasefire was a coordinated effort between Russia, who backs the Syrian government regime of Bashar al-Assad, and the United States, who back the myriad group of rebel organizations seeking to force Assad out of power. According to al-Jazeera, the Syrian ceasefire applies to all of Syria, with Russia carving out certain caveats, such as retaining the ability to strike groups like the Islamic State and al-Nusra, which have been ruled terrorist organizations by the United Nations.

Boys Swim In Bomb Crater During Syrian Ceasefire [Image by Aleppo Media Center/AP Images]

The stated goal of the Syrian ceasefire negotiations was to allow the United Nations to coordinate humanitarian aid to Syrian citizens in Aleppo and elsewhere who have been displaced by the ongoing conflict. The initial cessation of hostilities, which began Monday, was supposed to last 48 hours, which was extended by another 48 hours after the UN deemed the area still too unsafe for aid groups to enter. As of this writing, the United Nations has still not been able to provide significant aid to the people of Aleppo.

The issue at hand is control of the Castello road leading into the city. Reuters reports that Syrian government forces and rebel groups have not withdrawn from the road, which is a key strategic asset in controlling the city. Zakaria Malahifji, an official in Aleppo-based rebel brigade Fastaqim, issued a statement to the press.

“Today the withdrawal is supposed to happen, with aid entering tomorrow. This is what is supposed to happen, but there is nothing to give hope. If the regime withdraws 500 meters, east and west (of Castello road)… then the guys will be able to withdraw a bit. But the regime is not responding. The guys can see its positions in front of them.”

Malahifji claims that the rebels are concerned that if they withdraw first, the Assad government forces will exploit the movement to capture strategic positions. The rebels also claim that Syrian forces and Russia have used the exemption of terrorist groups from the ceasefire to attack their positions and civilian areas, which gives them little incentive to observe the ceasefire themselves.

Russia, however, has claimed that the United States and their coalition of rebel groups have not lived up to their end of the Syrian ceasefire. According to Sky News, Russia has long believed that some of the “moderate rebels” that the United States supports are in fact terrorist organizations with ties to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov issued a statement about the fragile truce.

“As of the third day, only the Syrian army is observing the regime of silence. At the same time, the ‘moderate opposition’ led by the US is increasing the amount of attacks on residential districts… Russia has respected its obligations to fulfill the ceasefire regime in Syria from the first minute.”

The United Nations has blamed both sides for the delay of aid. The two convoys carrying necessary supplies of food have been stranded in a “no man’s land” since the start of the Syrian ceasefire, unable to proceed due to hostilities and a lack of permits from the Assad regime. UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland discussed the reasons behind the delay.

“The reason we’re not in eastern Aleppo has again been a combination of very difficult and detailed discussions around security monitoring and passage of roadblocks, which is both opposition and government,” he said.

Syrian Citizens in Aleppo [Image by Alexander Kots/AP Images]

The ongoing civil war, which has lasted five years and shows little sign of ending, has left some 300,000 people dead and 11 million displaced from their homes. The latest Syrian ceasefire has given little reason to hope for an end to hostilities, while the people of Aleppo are caught in the crossfire.

[Featured Image by Manu Brabo/AP Images]

Share this article: Syrian Ceasefire Breaks Down At Aleppo
More from Inquisitr