It has not really been much of a ceasefire, but it has ended in terrible tragedy, and who knows what further human tragedy will now ensue as the UN has suspended all aid convoys in Syria.
The ceasefire had been brokered by the Russians and the US in a desperate attempt to get aid to civilians caught in the horrific fighting. That it has ended before it was meant to will come as no surprise – the Syrian army has a history of deciding for itself when ceasefires are over – but surely the attack on the aid convoy was a new low?
Wars are dangerous environments to be around, communication can often be difficult, fronts can move very quickly, there are bombs and shells and bullets. The bravery of aid workers is outstanding. But there have to be suspicions about this attack on 31 lorries in an aid convoy.
The convoy had received proper permits, and all warring parties –including Russia and the US –had been notified, according to the UN. The attack occurred just hours after the Syrian army declared the ceasefire over. It was delivering aid to civilians in rebel-held areas.
The US is said to be outraged, it is hard to see any further ceasefires being jointly brokered. The problem here is that the Russians and the US and its allies are on different sides. While they might all agree on attacks on Islamic State, this is the only enemy that unites them, and the Syrians and the Russians continue to attack the anti-Assad forces backed by the West. The fact is Russia’s intervention has effectively secured Assad victory, and the US and its allies need to recognise this, accept it and persuade the rebels to end the fighting. It will be a bitter pill to swallow, but will end bloodshed sooner.