Syrian Ceasefire on Brink of Collapse After US Airstrikes

Russia Warns Tensions Near Boiling Point in Aleppo

by Jason Ditz, September 18, 2016

After going into effect Monday and providing one of the calmest five-day spans of the entire Syria Civil War, the US-Russia brokered ceasefire now appears to be on the brink of collapse, following US airstrikes on Saturday and subsequent Syrian airstrikes against rebels in the far south of the country.

While the US and Russia had been trading charges of “violations” all week, despite the calm, the Saturday US airstrikes in Deir Ezzor were the largest incident by far, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting that at least 83 Syrian troops were killed, and 120 others wounded.

Syrian military officials accused the US of launching the attacks to “benefit ISIS,” who overran the bombed army base not long thereafter. Russia called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, a meeting which itself rapidly turned into a fiasco as US officials loudly condemned Russia for calling it.

On Sunday, Syrian forces bombed rebel sites in the southern Daraa Province, killing at least nine civilians according to the Observatory, who noted it was the single deadliest incident against civilian targets since the ceasefire began. The southern rebels are largely US-backed, and it was probably not a coincidence that they were targeted.

Still, Russia warns that the city of Aleppo is the most dangerous site, with the Nusra Front shelling Syrian military targets in the area. Nusra is not a party to the ceasefire, but one of the terms required the Syrian government not to engage them without US permission.

Russian and US military officials are scheduled to meet Monday on possible coordinated attacks against Nusra, but tensions are on the rise, and it’s increasingly doubtful that’s going to produce any sort of accord.

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