The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 19th February 2016
SYRIAN forces, backed by Russian and Syrian airforce strikes, are continuing to drive the sectarian terror militias back on all fronts whilst humanitarian agencies take advantage of the partial ceasefire agreed last week to deliver much needed food and medical aid to communities trapped in the fighting.
A Russian ceasefire proposal was accepted by US imperialism at talks in Munich last week; but the “cessation of hostilities” that was supposed to start this week excludes ISIS and Al Qaida’s Nusra Front and those whom the imperialists deem as “moderate” forces. Although the Americans claimed that they wanted to create the conditions to allow the Syrian people to decide freely their next government they made it clear that they still want regime-change and that they will continue to back the so-called “moderate” forces fighting to oust Bashar al Assad’s popular front government in Damascus.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin discussed the outcome of the Munich talks on the Syrian crisis with US president Barack Obama on the telephone last weekend. Obama urged Russia to halt its air campaign against what he called “Syria’s moderate opposition forces” in a conversation the Kremlin described as “frank and business-like”. Both leaders supported the tasks of achieving ceasefire and delivering humanitarian aid. They agreed to intensify cooperation so as to implement the consensus reached at the international talks in Munich. But whereas both sides said the exchange was “positive” there clearly is going to be no overall end to the fighting.
ISIS, Al Qaida and the Muslim Brothers are clearly not going to give up while assured of support from the feudal Arab kings, Turkey and the hidden hand of US imperialism. Turkey is continuing to bomb Kurdish positions in Syria whilst renewing calls for a “safe-haven” across the border to give them the pretext to suppress the Kurdish Rojava autonomous region that they claim is a “safe-haven” for the Kurdish guerrillas fighting for freedom in Turkey itself.
The Turks are also accusing the Russians of “warcrimes” following recent air-strikes on hospitals and schools in contested areas around Aleppo and Azaz. The international charity Médecins Sans Frontières said that 11 people died — five staff members, a caretaker and five patients including a child — after airstrikes on a hospital it supports in the province of Idlib.
The Turkish claims, repeated by a number of bourgeois news agencies, have been dismissed as lies in the Kremlin whilst others suggested that Nato aviation may have been responsible for the attacks.
But this Monday, Turkish premier Ahmet Davutoglu specifically claimed at a press conference that the hospital had been struck by a ballistic missile launched by a Russian warship deployed in the Caspian Sea. He told the media that Turkey will not allow the Syrian town of Azaz, just across from the Turkish border, to fall under the control of Syrian Kurdish fighters, adding that: “If Russia continues behaving like a terrorist organisation and forcing civilians to flee, we will deliver an extremely decisive response.”
But Russia has no ships in the Caspian Sea fleet that could have hit the Syrian hospital in Idlib province with a ballistic missile. All previous Syria targets that have been hit by the fleet are located much closer to the Caspian region.
Kremlin defence spokesperson Major-General Igor Konashenkov said that the Russian Air Force carries out strikes only after repeated checks of the received data of targets with the partners to avoid hitting civilians. He dismissed the Turkish claims as lies. “The messages about the allegedly destroyed hospitals and schools in Azaz, from February 10 and in Idlib from February 15, have the same master data: Gaziantep, Turkey,” Konashenkov said, referring to the Turkish intelligence centre across the border some 100 km north of Aleppo.
He told reporters that Turkey had launched an “aggressive information campaign” against Russia to prevent losing control in northern and north-western Syria, where the Turkish authorities have been “absolute rulers” in the past years. Konashenkov also added that Ankara has been conducting heavy artillery strikes, targeting the Syrian Army and moderate opposition forces close to the border.
In Damascus President Assad said on Monday that his government has no choice but to win, but that the price of victory is high. Countering terrorism and achieving national reconciliation are the basis for the solution based on the current constitution, which is the “protector of the state and its people.”
“Any transition must be done in accordance to the current constitution, which will still be valid until we reach a new one,” he declared.