Russia was selling the unity deal between the Assad government and certain secular rebel factions for months before they entered the war directly, but often found themselves rejected, particularly by the US-backed rebel factions who insisted no deal was possible under any circumstances.
President Putin, however, indicated this could be changing today, revealing that he discussed the matter with visiting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who said he was willing to talk with rebel groups both on ending the conflict and on fighting together against ISIS.
Getting the rebels on board could be a bigger obstacle, however, particularly with some of the US-backed groups, like the Free Syrian Army (FSA), openly talking about terrorist attacks against Russia to punish them for their involvement in the war. Finding meaningful factions on the rebel side who aren’t averse to peace may be harder than ever, particularly with the US furious at Russia for their involvement in the war against ISIS.
On the other hand, Russia’s involvement may provide an opportunity for such a deal, as it gives Russia more leverage on the Assad government to come to a mutually acceptable deal, and Russia’s addition to the war as a direct backer of that government may convince the rebels that their long-predicted military victory is no longer assured.
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