Friday May 6, 2016
In a message on Thursday addressed to Vladimir Putin felicitating Russia on its Victory Day, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad compared the fighting around the city of Aleppo to Stalingrad, which turned the tide of World War II. It’s a powerful metaphor for the Russian psyche, driving home that winning the Syrian war in Aleppo’s battle fields is a must and there is no scope for compromise.
Assad sent his message on the same day the US-Russia agreement extending the Syrian truce to the Aleppo theatre came into effect. Damascus insists this is only a 48-hour cease fire. Indeed, the Iranian reports on Thursday highlighted that the Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters “backed up by the country’s fighter jets and Russian artillery units” continue their operations in western Aleppo, pushing back the extremist fighters.
On the other hand, Washington is anxious to interpret that the agreement with Moscow means that Aleppo falls within the purview of the ceasefire across the country. But is the ceasefire possible in a situation where the extremist groups (who have been excluded from the ceasefire) freely intermingle with the so-called moderate opposition groups?