Lull in fighting in Syria

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

THE GUNS have fallen silent across much of Syria following an agreement between the American and Russian sides last weekend. The Syrian government has accepted the truce terms that specifically exclude ISIS and the Al Qaeda terror gangs, which will continue to be targeted by the Russian, Syrian and American warplanes.

The rebels are now demanding an end to the siege of their enclave in western Aleppo. But the Syrian army will not allow any humanitarian aid from the Turkish regime or any other quarter to enter Aleppo without coordination with the Syrian government and the United Nations.

The nationwide ceasefire in Syria concluded by Russia and the United States began at 16:00 GMT on 12th September. Chief of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operational Directorate Lt-General Sergey Rudskoy said that the Russian Aerospace Forces will continue to strike terrorist targets despite the ceasefire and Moscow and Washington are going to set up a joint coordination centre for further coordination. The Syrian government supported the ceasefire and silence was reported at the most of Syrian frontlines.

But gun battles and artillery duels continued around the rebel-held enclave in Aleppo and Syrian Arab Army and units of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia continued to advance against ISIS and Al Qaeda positions in other parts of the country.

still secret

Large parts of the agreement, concluded after more than 13 hours of talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva, are still secret. It is still unclear whether it applies to the Turkish forces that have occupied a border strip in northern Syria and it certainly doesn’t apply to the Israelis who launched a series of air-raids on Syrian positions in the Golan Heights this week.

The Russians have urged the US imperialists to make the diplomatic deal transparent, saying it should be released so the public can assess any alleged violations of the ceasefire.

But the Americans claim that aspects of the Syrian ceasefire deal brokered with Russia “are too sensitive to release to the public”. US Department of State spokesperson Mark Toner said: “[T]here are some operational details, areas of sensitivity, we do not believe it would be in the interest of the agreement, or in anyone’s interest, to share”.

Syrian missile defences shot down an Israeli F-16 warplane and a drone on Tuesday during an operation that the Syrian Foreign Office said was: “A desperate attempt to boost the deteriorating morale of the terrorist organisations after the losses inflicted upon them by the Syrian army in the Quneitra countryside and across Syria”. The Zionists have long provided medical care for the terrorists in Israel. Over 2,000 wounded rebels have been treated in Israeli hospitals. Israel also acts as a conduit for NATO arms and Arab oil prince money to the Nusra Front, an off-shoot of al Qaeda, and other rebel militias in southern Syria.

The Golan Heights belong to Syria and Israel’s occupation of around 1,200 square km of the territory during the 1967 Six-Day War and its later annexation have never been recognised by the international community. Tens of illegal settlements have been built in the area over the years while the regime in Tel Aviv has used the area to launch attacks against the Syrian government and its allies.

Whether the ceasefire, which is renewable every 48 hours, holds is anyone’s guess. Many suspect that all the imperialists want is a pause to give the terrorists a badly needed break from the relentless pounding of the guns of the Syrian army and the bombs of the Russian air-force.