Surprise! Assad Breaks Truce by Bombing Civilians
The Eid holiday Truce between the Assad regime and the rebels scheduled to last from Friday through Monday fell completely apart on Saturday less than 24 hours after it began.
Who broke it? Who didn't.
The truce was ragged from the start considering the fractured nature of the fighting across the country, and the opposition accused the government of resuming aerial bombardments and shelling urban centers. The official news agency, SANA, meanwhile, reported what it said were numerous cease-fire violations throughout the country by the opposition, which the government calls “terrorist gangs.” Extremist brigades outside the Free Syrian Army, the main rebel umbrella group, had said from the beginning that they would not respect the truce.
Virtually every major battleground seemed to report a resumption in hostilities.
In perhaps the most serious outbreak, a warplane fired missiles into a residential building in the Damascus suburb of Arbeen, killing eight men, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the fighting from abroad.
If confirmed, it would be the first aerial attack since the ad hoc truce started on Friday morning. The account could not be independently confirmed, but pictures posted on Facebook showed a shattered residential structure and a large crater filled with rubble where a missile seems to have exploded.
In Aleppo, an activist who uses the nickname Abu Hassan said government tanks had resumed shelling, especially around the airport. Several towns around Aleppo and in an adjacent province, Idlib, were also shelled, activists said.
“There is a clear breach of the truce,” Ahmad Kadour, an Idlib activist, said.
Government forces were moving convoys full of reinforcements up the road to Wadi al-Deif, the site of a military base where there was fighting a day earlier, he said.
Rebel commanders had been worried from the outset of the truce that the Syrian military would just use it to try to resupply beleaguered northern outposts in order to retake ground it had lost to the rebel fighters in recent weeks.
Really now, did you expect anything different? The situation in Syria is far beyond the puny efforts of the UN and their Lakhdar Brahimi to deal with. Each passing day brings a hardening of positions, a more powerful incentive to keep fighting that only when one side or the other is crushed will the fighting between the regime and the rebels end.
And if, as most observers believe, the rebels are able to do away with President Assad, the fighting will have just begun. Far more than Egypt, Libya, or any other "Arab Spring" country, radical extremists have leveraged their position by participating in the fighting and will almost certainly try to claim some measure of power in the new Syria.
This is interesting from Page Fortna writing in Foreign Policy Magazine:
In such a mutually painful status quo, bargaining theory tells us that negotiation should be preferable to continued violence. But reaching a deal and committing to it credibly is no easy task. Even if both sides are serious about negotiating a peace deal, and see some prospects for overcoming the commitment problem, would a temporary four-day holiday ceasefire help move the process forward? If the current violence subsides and the main parties abide by the ceasefire, it could build trust on both sides. But if the ceasefire fails entirely and full-scale fighting resumes, the opposite holds true.
Fortna's argument is that temporary cease fires usually make things worse because it reinforces the enmity between the two sides when the truce collapses while making it more difficult to bridge the distance between the warring parties.
Not that peace was ready to break out anyway. But the violation of the truce -- no matter which side is responsible -- guarantees at least several more months of bloody conflict with the subsequent suffering of civilians increasing dramatically.