Ceasefire in Syria Fizzles As Violence Spills into Turkey

Mike Brownfield /

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube on April 9, 2012 shows a Syrian soldier sitting atop a tank as troops deploy in Saqba on the outskirts of Damascus.

A ceasefire between Syria’s government and rebel forces appeared, for a moment, to be on the horizon. But in reality it was nothing more than a mirage that evaporated over the weekend when dictator Bashar al-Assad’s government demanded concessions from the opposition who have been under unceasing attacks for the past year.

The Guardian reports on the state of play in Syria and the brokered ceasefire that never was:

Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, had called for a pullout to be completed by Tuesday morning with a ceasefire taking effect 48 hours later as the first stage in a six-point international plan for political negotiations between the Assad regime and its opponents.

Amid evidence of continuing government operations, Syria’s foreign ministry said it was demanding written guarantees that “armed terrorist groups” would lay down their weapons.

It has been speculated that Assad agreed to the ceasefire last week as a strategic ploy to demand more concessions from the rebels who are standing against Assad’s reign of terror. The Guardian writes:

“This is a totally predictable move,” said Emile Hokayem of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “By accepting Annan’s plan, Assad wanted to demand – and get – reciprocity to put pressure on a fragmented opposition. Russia will support this demand and the Friends of Syria have painted themselves into a corner. Can they really say no at this point? And Assad thinks that the moment a senior diplomat or official knocks at his door, that he’s back in the game.”

In the meantime, the killing continues, as it has for the past 13 months. Reports emerged of the Syrian government conducting summary executions all while attacks have been perpetrated across the border on Syrian refugee camps in Turkey. To date, it is estimated that as many as 10,000 have been killed in the Syrian government’s crackdown. Heritage’s James Phillips says it’s high time for Assad’s regime to go:

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, which has made war on its own citizens, has lost whatever legitimacy it once had. The United States correctly has called for Assad to step down from power. His regime has supported numerous Palestinian, Lebanese, Iraqi, and Kurdish terrorist groups in attacks on Americans and U.S. allies; has subverted Lebanon’s independence, assassinated its leaders, and blocked Arab peace efforts with Israel; and remains both a state sponsor of terrorism and Iran’s most important ally…

The U.S. can play a constructive role in the conflict by supporting efforts to deliver humanitarian aid. The U.S. should also be working closely with regional partners, especially Turkey, both to help speed the transition to a new, legitimate government and to continue diplomatic pressure and international sanctions against the Assad regime.

However, Phillips says the United States should not engage in direct military intervention.

Read more in Next Steps for U.S. in Syria Crisis.