In an interview with Denmark’s TV 2, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad insisted that the effort to regain total control of Aleppo, and indeed of all Syrian territory, would continue, but insisted that while military operations are ongoing, he would prefer local deals and amnesty allowing rebels to leave the contested areas as a way to avoid fighting.
At the same time, he didn’t appear to hold out much hope for that happening in Aleppo, insisting that the main rebel force there, long-time al-Qaeda affiliate the Nusra Front, was being used by the United States as a proxy, because they are the only really effective card the US has to play in the war.
Assad insisted the main reason the ceasefire failed was not the fighting or even the bungled US airstrike against a military base in Deir Ezzor, but rather the general lack of will among US officials to come to the table on any deal that would allow fighting against Nusra.
That indeed does appear to have been a factor, with the ceasefire supposedly designed to lead to joint US-Russia strikes on Nusra after a week. The ceasefire did last seven days, and Pentagon officials were still openly opposing the idea at that point, when the ceasefire ultimately collapsed.
Since then, the US has been condemning Russian and Syrian airstrikes against Nusra as “brutality” that proves they have no interest in a peace deal, even though such operations were meant initially to include the US, and Nusra-held Aleppo was always meant to be targeted under the deal.
Assad was a bit more contrite about international criticism of strikes which hit hospitals and other civilian targets in Aleppo, insisting it was not a matter of policy to attack such cites deliberately, saying any such attacks were “mistakes.”
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