Assad regime has no reason to cheer

Assad regime has no reason to cheer
In the past days, the regime of Bashar Assad has claimed victory in its five-year struggle to regain control of Aleppo, its largest city. Over that time, those who opposed his regime and took to arms and the alleys of what once was the commercial centre of Syria, fought against a tide that would inevitably sweep them away.

That tide, however, unleashed horrors of war that inflicted brutality, barrel bombs and barbarity on a mostly unprotected civilian population held captive in enclaves amid deplorable conditions.

While the regime is enthusiastic in its words used to describe the end of rebel opposition there, the reality is that the forces loyal to Assad are likely to have committed war crimes. The indiscriminate use of barrel bombs — dropping containers laden with explosives onto market and public places — the wanton and deliberate targeting of medical facilities and clinics used to treat the wounded, the callous destruction of any civilian redoubt by heavy artillery and the unleashing of the air power of the Russian air force, its jets and attack helicopters, onto city districts incapable of repelling aerial assaults, collectively amount to fitting into the moral, if not the actual legal, definition of war crimes.

If there is glee in the regime, then those elsewhere should be deeply ashamed that international efforts to assist those under assault in Aleppo collectively amounted to just about nothing. Repeated attempts to organise lasting ceasefires, to provide aid, to allow for humanitarian corridors, to allow for a timely and organised evacuation of a civilian population came to nought.

Although the final chapter on Aleppo has been written, there are many more pages that will account for the wars that are ripping Syria apart.

Yes, the regime forces, Hezbollah and the Russian allies will now target Idlib to retake the last rebel stronghold in the broken land. But while that is under way, the terrorist threat of Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) still endures and remains potent. It lost Palmyra to regime forces, but has since managed to retake the city. In effect, the Assad allies are simply not capable now of fighting a war on two fronts.

While the West and its allies are committed to the principles of the Geneva rounds of talks on the future of Syria, there is a reality that the grouping of Russia, Iran and Turkey will decide the fate of Syria. And that will be another tragedy for the Syrian people.

Editorial (Gulf News)

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