Further to this post,
things are getting quite dicey what with all the Aleppo, Kurdish, Turkish, NATO (remember Turkey is a member), US and Russian angles intertwined; the chances of something going badly wrong are getting pretty scary:
Turkey’s Erdogan denounces US support for Syrian Kurds
Kurdish forces said to take air base near Turkish border
[supported by Russian air strikes–Kurds playing both US and Russia?]
In Syria, Russia fully prepared to show tough resistance to US and Turkey’s intervention
Then at Defense One’s “D-Brief“:
Dispatch from the Turkish border: “People are waiting for the international community to stop this war,” Defense Onespecial contributor Gayle Tzemach Lemmon reports from Gazi Antep, Turkey, some 75 miles north of Aleppo, Syria. There she finds a harrowing scene of broken families desperately viewing photos of what was once their homes—many now “just a huge hole,” as one Syrian described.
“The international community’s dueling priorities have prevented a durable ceasefire and those on the ground say Russian air strikes are making aid even harder to secure,” she writes. “Tens of thousands of Syrians are now massed on the Turkish border, trying to escape airstrikes and fighting all around them. If the world is not able to end the war, or even to open its borders to Syrian refugees unconditionally, the very least the world can to do now is fight to create a safe zone for mothers and fathers to flee to with their children.” More from Antep, here.
Russia’s roadmap for peace in Syria calls for a cease-fire on March 1. The U.S. says it should begin now. State Secretary John Kerry and his Russian counterpart have agreed to the need for a cease-fire, but the two sides have not agreed to much beyond that yet, the WSJ reports.
U.S. officials see the call from Moscow as their way of asking for three more weeks to crush more elements of the Syrian rebellion. The U.S. counteroffer, on the other hand, sounds a lot like what the rebels have requested—an immediate ceasefire accompanied by full humanitarian access to Syria’s besieged cities—which puts the chief negotiating parties at odds yet again.
Moscow and Damascus seem to have gained a new upper handin Syria’s northwest in recent weeks, especially around the city of Aleppo, where Assad’s army has managed to split terrain held by opposition rebels north of Syria’s second-largest city. (What’s the Pentagon’s read on what’s happening in Aleppo? Check this map shared on Wednesday [Feb. 10].)
For what it’s worth: 70 percent of Russia’s strikes have been against the Syrian opposition, not the Islamic State, the White House’s envoy for the counter-ISIS fight, Brett McGurk, told lawmakers Wednesday…
Meet the guerrilla fighters of Kurdistan. Brooklyn-based photographer Joey L. was tired of mainstream coverage of the Islamic State, so he traveled to Iraq and Syria to see the war against the jihadi group for himself. His on-the-ground video chronicle explores the culture and lifestyle of the Kurdish resistance groups on the front lines against ISIS. Watch it, courtesy of The Atlantic, here…
And at Foreign Policy’s “Situation Report“:
Sorry, but we’re not sorry. FP’s man at the United Nations, Colum Lynch, sends along this from Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin following a Wednesday meeting on humanitarian situation in Syria. Speaking outside the Security Council, he told reporters that Moscow is “not about to be apologetic,” for its actions in Syria. “We are acting in a very transparent manner. Daily briefings are being conducted by our ministry of defense. We are present there legally, at the invitation of the Syrian government, in contrast to what the so-called U.S. led coalition is doing in Syria. They are acting outside of international law, and incidentally never telling anybody what exactly they are doing in Syria or Iraq.”..
The toll of the Syrian civil war on its population has been absolutely brutal, with more than one in ten Syrians killed or injured in the war, according to a new report from the Syrian Centre for Policy Research. The Guardian reports that the center estimates over 470,000 dead, 1.9 million wounded, and 45 percent of the population displaced since the war began. The 450,000 estimate of the dead is larger than the 250,000 figure offered by the U.N. — which stopped counting in 2014 — a discrepancy the center attributes to their better access to local data on casualties…
Far too many opportunities for miscalculation. Meanwhile John Schindler has a really grim view; let’s hope he’s, er, dead wrong (his The XX Committee blog is here):