News & Politics

Russian, Syrian Warplanes in 'Ferocious' Assault on Aleppo

In this photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense group known as the White Helmets, shows members of Civil Defense removing a dead body from under the rubble after airstrikes hit in Aleppo, Syria, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. Syrian government forces captured a rebel-held area on the edge of Aleppo on Saturday, tightening their siege on opposition-held neighborhoods in the northern city as an ongoing wave of airstrikes destroyed more buildings. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)

John Kerry was in New York yesterday, pleading with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to attempt to re-establish the ceasefire that never was. Lavrov’s response was unreported but perhaps Kerry should have looked at what the Russians and Syrians were doing in Aleppo for a clue.

Washington Post:

Syrian and Russian warplanes launched a ferocious assault against rebel-held Aleppo on Friday, burying any hopes that a U.S.-backed cease-fire could be salvaged and calling into question whether the deal would ever have worked.

Waves upon waves of planes relentlessly struck neighborhoods in the rebel-held east of the city on the first day of a new offensive announced by the government. Residents described the most intense airstrikes they had yet witnessed in a five-year-old war that has already claimed in excess of 300,000 lives.

By nightfall, more than 100 bombs had landed, and more than 80 people were dead, said Ammar al-Selmo, head of the Aleppo branch of the White Helmets civil defense group.

Rescuers don’t have the capacity to reach all the places that were hit because there are too many, he said. Three White Helmets bases were among the locations targeted, and two were destroyed, along with their equipment and fuel supplies, further diminishing the group’s ability to respond.

In addition to the White Helmet bases, taking out the ability of aid groups to assist the wounded, Russian planes recently bombed six hospitals in a week. Not a peep has been heard from the international community about these atrocities.

“It is a horrific situation now in Aleppo,” Selmo said. “There are dead people in the streets, and fires are burning without control. People don’t know what to do or where to go. There is no escape. It is like the end of the world.”

If there had been any doubt before that the cease-fire deal co-sponsored with Russia is dead, at least for the foreseeable future, the violence Friday put it to rest. A meeting in New York between Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ended swiftly, without statements or discernible progress toward Kerry’s stated goal of reviving last week’s cease-fire.

Instead, the launch of the offensive called into question the entire premise of the agreement painstakingly negotiated by Kerry and Lavrov over the past eight months: that Russia shares the Obama administration’s view that there is no military solution to the conflict. On that basis, U.S. officials have explained, Moscow would be willing to pursue a negotiated settlement in return for a cease-fire and the prestige of eventually conducting joint military operations in Syria alongside the United States against terrorist groups.

At a news conference in New York, Lavrov offered a starkly different point of view. He said it is the United States that needs to come around to the idea that President Bashar al-Assad is the only viable partner in the fight against terrorism, calling his army “the single most efficient force fighting terror in Syria.”

“Little by little, life will make everyone understand that it’s only together that you can fight terrorism,” Lavrov said.

Gee…what’s got into WaPo? A little truth telling goes a long way. “Calling into question” whether the cease fire could ever have worked is strong stuff for the official organ of the Democratic Party. In fact, no one believed the ceasefire could have succeeded, except those with fervid imaginations like John Kerry and Barack Obama.

“Calling into question” (again) the entire premise of the agreement is the reason. What possible motivation does Russia have for a negotiated peace? They are winning the war. So the question of throwing the Russians a bone by offering them “the prestige” of military cooperation in Syria fighting ISIS isn’t even worth asking.

Our entire Syria policy has been delusional from the start. That’s what you get when you have a delusional president and secretary of state.