In comments today to reporters at the UN offices in Geneva, UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura publicly offered to go to eastern Aleppo and personally escort the fighters of the al-Qaeda-allied Nusra Front out of Aleppo and to safe territory.
Mistura presented the move as an opportunity to end the humanitarian disaster in Aleppo, and the offer is being heavily publicized as a challenge to Russia to stop cooperating in Syrian airstrikes against that part of the city, with the idea that this is an easy alternative. Mistura claimed that the ongoing war would destroy eastern Aleppo totally by Christmas.
At the same time, Mistura’s offer to lead the Nusra fighters out of Aleppo appears to be materially identical to Russian-backed offers from the Syrian government for Nusra to withdraw from the city and be given safe passage to other Nusra-held territory. The only real difference is that Mistura would go along with them.
Russian officials said they were interested in studying the proposal, but the big sticking point is Nusra itself, which has shown an unwillingness to consider withdrawing from the major city,. and seems to be holding out for another ceasefire they can use to launch a counter-attack.