The Syrian government on Tuesday signed a truce with representatives of rebel forces in the bloody five-year-old civil war. The truce, however, excludes the Islamic State (ISIS), al Qaeda, and Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Nusra Front) terrorist organizations, according to a statement released by the state-run SANA news agency, which raises the issue of how long the truce will actually last.
“The Syrian Arab Republic accepts the cessation of fighting actions on the basis of continuing the military efforts for combating terrorism against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra and other al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organizations according to the Russian-U.S. agreement,” said an official source at the Syrian Expatriates and Foreign Ministry.
Earlier, the United States and Russia announced that a planned cease-fire in Syria would take effect by midnight on Feb. 27. According to the White House, President Obama had called his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to discuss the cease-fire.
In a statement released after the call, the White House said the cease-fire will apply to “those parties to the Syrian conflict that have indicated their commitment to and acceptance of its terms.”
Aside from Russian forces fighting in the country, this will also likely include the Syrian government as well as opposition groups.
More than 250,000 Syrians have been killed since the civil war began in March 2011, with tens of millions of Syrians being internally displaced and over four million fleeing abroad.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon expressed pessimism over the cease-fire attempt.
“It’s difficult to see the reality of a stable cease-fire, with all of the elements [in Syria] agreeing to it,” he said.
“ISIS is not a part of this process, the Nusra Front is not a part of this process. I can’t see a comprehensive cease-fire in the horizon,” he added.
The military picture in Syria is far from simple.
Both Russia and the U.S.-led coalition say they are bombing ISIS terror targets in Syria, but one can hardly separate those out from the general population, let alone from other combatants.
The Syrian regime forces include the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hizbullah terrorist guerrilla fighters, and Russian military personnel on the ground and in the air.
The U.S.-led coalition forces in the air have been bombing targets on behalf of the more moderate Syrian opposition forces. But there have been overlaps and on more than one occasion the “moderate” rebels have united with radical Islamists when they deemed necessary to overcome an enemy target.
In this way, weapons, ammunition and other foreign ordnance change hands, and ISIS and/or Al Qaeda-linked terrorists wind up in possession of American arms and military technology.
Moreover, Turkey has been bombing Kurdish sites in northern Syria, claiming the PYD and YPG groups are related to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist group. Turkey alleges the PKK perpetrated last week’s horrific suicide car bombing in the capital city, Ankara, together with a PYD-linked Syrian national.
Regardless of who is dropping the bombs, after five years of one of the most savage civil wars in the Middle East very little is left of the “Syrian Arab Republic” that the world, or President Bashar al-Assad himself, once knew. At present, even the outlying districts of Damascus have been bombed into rubble in many areas.
– JewishPress.com, JNS