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In the wake of international peace talks regarding his country, Syrian president Al-Assad has vowed to retake “the whole country” from rebel forces. Talks held in Munich have led to an agreed pause in fighting between the Syrian Government and certain rebel groups (discounting ISIS and Al-Nursa) in order to allow humanitarian relief to civilians trapped amid the fighting. Yet in a rare interview, the President stated his support of the peace talks, but stressed that they did not mean “we stop fighting terrorism” and made a promise to continue fighting rebel groups in his country until he regains control of Syria.
The Assad government has recently come under fire from the UN human rights council, who published a report accusing the government of committing crimes against humanity. The report claims that the government forces have used torture, rape, and extermination as weapons against rebel forces, something the president strongly denies. The report also stated that rebel forces had employed many similar techniques, and also committed crimes against humanity.The use of siege warfare by the Syrian Government has led to much condemnation from the UN, with the peace deal being brokered to allow humanitarian organisations to provide food to the encircled cities. Once populous centres such as Aleppo and Madaya have been ravaged and starved by the war, leading to almost 13.5 million people being in need of aid according to the UN. These areas are considered by the Syrian Government to be supply routes and territorial bases of the rebel groups, and have defended their actions as being justified as part of war.
In his interview, Assad recognised that the civil war had become so complicated due to intervention from regional and international powers that “the solution will take a long time”, and yet during this time thousands will continue to die. Since the start of the fighting an estimated 250,000 people have been killed, and 11 million displaced. The refugee crisis in Europe, the rising tensions in the region and the growth of Islamic State have been assisted, if not caused, by the continued fighting in the country. Without a roadmap to peace agreed by the member states fighting in the conflict, the UN seems powerless to halt this fighting.
While the allowing of aid into affected areas has helped relieve some of the suffering for the inhabitants, the peace deal is by no means long term. The UN declared ‘intentions’ have so far made no impact in the conflict, and with most combatants refusing to stand down the fighting can be expected to continue for some time.