Opposition groups brace for onslaught as US and Russia agree to cooperate, and Ankara sends peace feelers to Moscow and Damascus
Just over a month into Syrias uprising in 2011, the leader of Lebanons Druze sect, Walid Jumblatt, travelled to Damascus to visit Syrias then security tsar, Mohammed Nasif. As well as being the Assad familys most trusted senior official, he was also the linchpin of Syrias close ties with Iran and Hezbollah, a human bind more than most to the fate of the regime.
He said to me at the time, its either us, meaning the Alawites, or them, entailing the Sunnis, Jumblatt recalled. I knew which way this was going then. He added, even if it expense us a million dead.
More than 5 years later, the toll in the now raging war is well past a quarter of that calculate international monitors stopped counting last August. The sectarian dimension to the fighting foreshadowed by Nasif is a reality. So is the destruction of much of the country, including the ancient city of Aleppo, which after years of being viewed as the key to Syrias fate last week slipped from the comprehend of the opposition and into the hands of the Syrian regimes friends, led by Hezbollah.
The encirclement of Aleppo is a significant moment in a war that has led to more unrestrained savagery, international repercussions and unlikely confederations than most others in modern times. Another emerged last week, as Hezbollah and Syrian troops were beating back the al-Qaida-aligned Jabhat al-Nusra from farmlands to the north of the city. As that combat raged, the US was drafting a deal with Russia that would create a joint operations centre to coordinate assaults on al-Nusra and Islamic State.
The move has created despair among the ranks of the Syrian opponent, which insists that a pact between Moscow and Washington will entrench the Syrian leader, whom Russia and Iran have saved from defeat over the past 12 months. Adding to the alarm of the now diminished rebel ranks is a detente, also signed during the week, between Moscow and Ankara, after a seven-month stalemate, as well as the Turkish “ministers ” remarks that Ankara was interested in peace with Damascus.
This all means that Assad is no longer at risk, said a senior official in the western-backed Syrian opposition. This means that “hes having” won.
Read more: www.theguardian.com