CNN FARED’’S GLOBAL BRIEFING
Friday; September 7, 2018
“Russian-Iranian-Turkish summit Friday to discuss a possible offensive in Syria’s Idlib—and America’s lack of representation at the meeting—is a reminder of fading US influence in the region, writes Simon Tisdall for The Guardian. It didn’t start with President Trump, but his administration has only made things worse.
“Attention in Washington is focused on Russian subversion of the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion. The furor has obscured Russia’s many malign activities elsewhere, notably in Syria,” Tisdall writes.
“Could Trump suddenly switch tack and jump in, prompted by atrocities in Idlib? It’s possible…But that looks unlikely. At present the Pentagon seems more concerned about a Russian threat to attack an area of eastern Syria, bordering Iraq and Jordan, where a handful of US troops is based. How the mighty have fallen. While the Russians run riot across a region that Washington once dominated, the US is reduced to observer status, watching as defenseless civilians die.”
Full-Scale Military Attack must be Avoided in Syria’s Idlib: UN Negotiator
The UN’s top humanitarian advisor for Syria appealed for “sanity now at the end, hopefully, of this, the worst war of our generation” and said it was no way to “liberate a people or to save a city by crushing it with the civilians inside.” Jan Egeland, the Special Advisor to the UN Special Envoy for Syria, told journalist in Geneva today (4 Sep) that intense humanitarian and political diplomacy on Idlib was ongoing. He added, “if it succeeds we will have hundreds of thousands of lives spared; if it fails in the next days and hours we could see a battle more cruel than any previous battle in this, the cruelest war of our generation.” Egeland said he is looking to Russia, Turkey, Iran, and the western countries with influence on the parties to come with hope for civilians. He noted that there are more babies than terrorists in Idlib with over one million children in the area.
The Special advisor said hundreds of thousands of people fled to Idlib because it was considered safe as a recognized de-escalation zone by the Astana guarantors. He noted that it was possible to end fighting through talks in Idlib as was done in other places. Egeland said the building of forces and the fortification inside Idlib signal that innocents would die at a much higher ratio than armed men in a war scenario, which would also endanger the humanitarian lifeline for some two million people.
Jan Egeland, Special Advisor to the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria: “We are prepared now in our planning for war, but we pray there will be no war. We cannot have war in Idlib because it’s filled to the brim with the internally displaced, with civilians.” The Special advisor appealed for “sanity” which would mean “not repeating eastern Aleppo, eastern Ghouta, and Ar-Raqa; it is no way to liberate a people or to save a city by crushing it with the civilians inside.” He said armed opposition groups destroyed bridges in the city which meant that civilians do not have freedom of movement. Egeland said a humanitarian response plan has been launched for Idlib which calls for 310 million USD but the funds were not available adding that the current humanitarian operation was barely funded.
The Syrian Civil War (Arabic: الحرب الأهلية السورية, Al-ḥarb al-ʼahliyyah as-sūriyyah) is an ongoing multi-sided armed conflict in Syria fought between the Ba’athist Syrian Arab Republic led by President Bashar al-Assad, along with its allies, and various forces opposing both the government and each other in varying combinations.
The unrest in Syria, part of a wider wave of the 2011 Arab Spring protests, grew out of discontent with the Assad government and escalated to an armed conflict after protests calling for his removal were violently suppressed. The war is being fought by several factions: the Syrian government and its international allies, a loose alliance of Sunni Arab rebel groups (including the Free Syrian Army), the majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Salafi jihadist groups (including al-Nusra Front), and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), with a number of countries in the region and beyond being either directly involved or providing support to one or another faction.
Iran, Russia and Hezbollah support the Syrian government militarily, with Russia conducting air operations since September 2015. The U.S.-led international coalition, established in 2014 with the declared purpose of countering ISIL, has conducted airstrikes against ISIL as well as against government and pro-government targets. Turkey, on the other hand, has become deeply involved since 2016, actively supporting the Syrian opposition and occupying large swathes of northwestern Syria.
International organizations have accused the Syrian government, ISIL, opposition rebel groups, and the U.S.-led coalition of severe human rights violations and of massacres. The conflict has caused a major refugee crisis. Over the course of the war, a number of peace initiatives have been launched, including the March 2017 Geneva peace talks on Syria led by the United Nations, but fighting continues.
How many of the 2.9 million civilians in this last ditch war in the last Syrian province held by non-government rebels will die within the next 24 hours?