Aleppo under fire

The Syrian city of Aleppo has once again become the centre of fighting between government troops and opposition forces - notwithstanding the ceasefire negotiated in February. Over the last few days hundreds of people have died in strikes targeting rebel-occupied areas, including the bombing of a hospital. Were the Geneva talks in vain?

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La Repubblica (IT) /

Assad wants to make himself indispensable

Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad's political future depends on the outcome of the battle for control of Aleppo, La Repubblica argues:

“With Moscow and Tehran's backing the ruler of Damascus may have gained ground, but not enough to become invulnerable. Gaining control over Aleppo would give him prestige. It would cast him as an indispensable force in the fight against the IS and al-Nusra terrorist groups. However, the Sunni regimes, which see him as a representative of the Shiite front, or in other words of Iran, are not willing to give him any credit. And the Europeans reject him with wavering intransigence. For the French UN envoy [François Delattre] Aleppo is a 'city of martyrs and the centre of the resistance' against Assad. The Americans take a less categorical view: in their eyes Assad doesn't deserve any credit but can be useful in an emergency.”

Financial Times (GB) /

US and Russia must cooperate in Syria

Far from being unrealistic, joint military intervention by the two major powers in the Syrian civil war is the only chance for a peaceful solution, the Financial Times is convinced:

“As things stand, it would be politically impossible for the US administration to work directly with the Assad regime and the Russians. However, if the departure of Mr Assad can be arranged, then some sort of joint military offensive against Isis involving the regime, the Russians, the Kurds and the US-led coalition might yet emerge. The Russians, it is hoped, might be willing to give up Mr Assad in return for the western recognition of their role in Syria that they have long craved. ... Without Russian-American co-operation, Syria can only expect further years of tragedy and death.”

Shorouk (EG) /

Arab states should be ashamed of themselves

The Egyptian daily Shorouk lambastes the Arab states for biding their time and doing nothing to end the war in Syria:

“The attacks should deliver a fatal blow to the rebels and change the balance of power. That, in turn, would influence the talks taking place in Geneva under the patronage of the US and Russia. But as long as the Americans are busy with their election campaign the balance of power will be tipped in Russia's favour. Not until next spring will the US's interest in the Middle East and the Syria talks increase once more. … That means the torment of the Syrians will continue, as will our feelings of shame and disgrace. The Arab governments and their League are incapable of doing anything. … It is embarrassing that we are calling on the international community to fulfil its obligations. Because everyone should be asking why the Arabs aren't doing what they call on others to do?”

Der Standard (AT) /

Ceasefire was not well planned

After the recent bombing of Aleppo the international negotiators are trying to agree on a new ceasefire. Der Standard looks at why the last truce could not last:

“The fault lies in the construction of the ceasefire itself: it came into force even though no clear decision had been taken regarding who to continue fighting against - certainly the Islamic State and the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front - and who not. It was known that the rebels cooperate in part with the al-Nusra Front, and control certain territories together with it. But that in no way justifies the Assad regime's exploiting this situation to bomb the area with no regard for civilian lives.”

NaTemat (PL) /

Religious heterogeneity remains a problem

The complete recapture of Aleppo by the government troops would considerably strengthen Assad's position, blogger and economist Andrzej Kraszweski warns. But even if the president managed to secure control over all Syria that won't bring peace to the country, the online portal NaTemat writes:

“The conflict won't end even if the Assad regime regains control of the country, despite what many political scientist claim. And it won't end if the IS disappears from Syria either. This conflict will continue because Syrian society is so divided that it will take years to overcome these rifts. ... Syria is a religious melting pot, with Sunnis, Shiites, Druze, Alawites, and three different Christian denominations.”