With a truce in tatters and peace talks in meltdown , reports that Russia is moving more military equipment into Syria to bolster President Bashar al-Assad has got the United States concerned.
As a part of a move that may suggest the Syrian government and allies are preparing another assault on the divided city of Aleppo, the US alleged that Russia has been repositioning artillery to northern Syria.
After the effective collapse of the truce and U.N.-led peace talks in Geneva aimed at ending a five-year war that has killed at least 250,000 people, the arrival of Russian reinforcements would risk driving the war into an even higher gear.
With the main opposition negotiators refusing to participate and combatants accusing each other of breaking the six-week-old ceasefire, U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura will on Friday assess whether Geneva talks can go on.
After declaring a truce was over and that talks would not re-start until the government stopped committing “massacres”, the opposition this week urged more military support for rebels.
A conflict that has given rise to Islamic State group, sucked in regional and major powers and created the world’s worst refugee crisis is hoped to be halted through the talks.
A source close to the High Negotiations Committee and a Western diplomat told Reuters that as the talks were on life support, all members of the main Syrian opposition will leave Geneva by Friday.
“I’m saddened and believe it’s a mistake. It will be very difficult to find a pretext for them to return given the situation on the ground and now the regime knows that a bombing will ensure they stay away,” said the diplomatic source while referring to an air strike this week that killed dozens.
Syrian government forces have been boosted on the battlefield by Russia’s firepower and both sides are far apart.
It would consider with other European powers and the United States the idea of convening a ministerial meeting of major powers in the next two weeks to work out what to do, said France, which has accused the government of rushing “headlong” into violence and showing its refusal to negotiate a political solution.
“If the regime insists on stubbornness, obstruction and rejection of international resolutions, we will continue our revolution. Our only option is to realize the revolution’s goals,” Abdullah Othman, head of the politburo of the Levant Front rebel fighting group, told Reuters.
In the southern Syrian city of Deraa pro-democracy protests were crushed in March 2011. This triggered nationwide demonstrations that ignited into widespread unrest and civil war.
The country was thereby divided in to separate areas that were controlled by the government, an array of rebel groups, Islamic State, and the well-organized Kurdish YPG militia.
Syria’s fragile peace talks might not resume for at least a year if they are abandoned is violence escalated, one senior Western diplomat warned.
(Adapted from Reuters)