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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La trêve mise à mal par les bombardements américains

by Pierre Barbancey

The Cease-Fire Destroyed By U.S. Bombing

Translated Wednesday 21 September 2016, by Henry Crapo

The air strikes against the Syrian Army took place at Deir ez-Zor, to the south-east of Raqqa, encircled by Daesh. Washington admits to its error. But Damascus and Moscow are growling.

Photo Y. Warwashan, AFP

The cease-fire put in place under the direction of the United States and Russia eight days ago, and which held, despite great odds, is fundamentally upset by the bombing by coalition airplanes (under U.S. command) of a Syrian army position, killing 90 persons. The act in itself is very serious. And it is all the more serious in that the attacks were not made just anywhere. The Syrian military were on the Djebel Thourda, near the Deir ez-Zor airport, which they were protecting. This city to the south-east of Raqqa (the headquarters of Daesh in Syria) has been encircled by the djihadists for more than a year. This position permitted the army to protect the airport, which, otherwise, would have been under fire from ISIS. It was retaken by the Syrian army, yesterday [1].

The U.S. and Russia enter into a new diplomatic struggle

According to the Washington Post, it is simply “an error by the intelligence services”. On its side, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) explained that “Syria is a complex situation with different military forces and different militias operating at close range to one another, but the coalition forces did not deliberately attack a unit of the Syrian military, identified as such”.

At the request of Russia, the Security Council of the United Nations met urgently for one hour on Saturday evening. The U.S. and Russia engaged in a new diplomatic struggle at the end of the meeting. Judging that Russia had never displayed such indignation concerning civilians killed by the Syrian regime, the U.S. ambassador Semantha Power qualified the Russian attitude as one of "cynicism and hypocrisy".

When asked to say whether the bombings on Saturday marked the end of the Russian-U.S. agreement on a cease-fire in Syria, her Russian counterpart, Vitali Tchourkine, replied, “There is a very big question mark. It will be very interesting to know what will be the reaction in Washington. If the attitude today of the ambassador Semantha Power furnishes the slightest indication of their possible reaction, we are facing grave problems”, he added. In a communique, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs declared that these military strikes were situated “on the boundary between criminal negligence and direct connivance with the terrorists of the Islamic State”. Yesterday, Daesh shot down a Syrian military airplane at Deir ez-Zor.

Everyone is in agreement as to the fact that the solution will not be military, but diplomatic

Moscow, just as Damascus, affirms now that Washington is supporting Daesh. These are declarations to be put back in the context of the on-going arm-wrestling, but everyone is now in agreement about the fact that the solution will not be military, but will be diplomatic. That’s where the going gets tough. In view of upcoming negotiations, one has to place one’s pawns on the chess-board. On the side of the Syrian powers and their allies (Russia, Iran, the Lebanese Hezbollah, and some Shiite militants), the road-map is clear. Not so in the other camp, supported by the West [2] and the Wahabite nations of the Gulf region. Under the appellation of “rebels” hide a number of Islamic groups and Salafists, still in alliance with the former al-Nosra Front (al Qaida in Syria), all of whom saying they were part of the cease-fire! This is the case, for example, of the powerful group Ahrar al-Cham. Not to mention the Turkish army, which is combating the Kurds of the YPG.

In the long run, it is precisely the territorial integrity of tomorrow’s Syria that is at stake. But isn’t that exactly what various opposition powers are meddling with, at the risk of exploding the Middle East?

Links to two related articles, already in English, by Finnian Cunningham and Paul Craig Roberts.

[1Sunday 18 September

[2U.S., U.K., France, Israel, ...

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