Friday February 12, 2016

Russian airstrikes on Aleppo have devastating consequences for Syrians

A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he walks past damaged buildings in the old city of Aleppo, Syria in August 2015.

A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he walks past damaged buildings in the old city of Aleppo, Syria in August 2015. (Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters)

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Aleppo was Syria's commercial capital and its biggest urban centre before the civil war began in 2011.

Today, it's being described as the centre of the chessboard in the complex Syrian civil war. And it's perilously close to falling. Rebels are still in control of parts of the city. But government forces, with the help of Russian airstrikes, have nearly encircled it over the past two weeks.

There may be a shimmer of hope in a diplomatic breakthrough last night. The United States and Russia agreed on a plan to deliver aid to besieged cities over the next few days in advance of a purported ceasefire, and renewed peace talks.

Rami Jarrah is less optimistic about the latest developments. He believes the attacks on the city will be devastating because it will lead moderate, average people to join ISIS against Assad.

Jarrah is the project manager for ANA PRESS, an independent network of journalists in Syria and the recipient of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression's 2012 International Press Freedom Award.

We also have two guests to comment on the latest ceasefire talks in Syria.

  • Bessma Momani is a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance.
  • Julien Barnes-Dacey is a senior policy expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations.