The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewPatrick Cockburn Archive
US-Russian Ceasefire in Syria Has Broken Down, But Who Is at Fault?
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

The British participation in the misdirected US-led air raid that killed at least 62 Syrian soldiers and the final breakdown of the shaky six-day truce combine to underline the need to bring the war to an end and to emphasise how difficult it will be to accomplish this in the near future.

The British and Americans admit to a mistake in targeting the Syrian army rather than Isis, but in the atmosphere of chronic suspicion that swirls around anything to do with the Syrian war, there will be plenty, and not just in Damascus and Moscow, who will not believe them.

The coincidence that the blunder took place just as the ceasefire agreed between Russia and the US on 10 September was collapsing is symbolic of the danger that so many foreign and local powers are now militarily engaged in Syria that they are bound to collide accidentally or on purpose. Indeed, an interesting fact to emerge from the incident is that the US claims it told the Russians about its intended airstrike on Deir Ezzor before it took place and, soon after, the Russians told them they were hitting the wrong target while the airstrikes were still going on.

Clearly, there is already a high degree of US-Russian military cooperation already in place, but it is still not enough to prevent accidents on a chaotic battlefield or enforce a ceasefire which never completely took hold. The Russian Ministry of Defence said today that a “ceasefire” was meaningless in the light of rebel violations. The rebels, for their part, say that the Syrian air force had already resumed bombing in East Aleppo and in Deraa in the south. The UN aid convoys for East Aleppo are still in Turkey, just as they were six days ago. Who is most at fault in all this is impossible to disentangle.

One of the many difficulties in establishing even temporary and local ceasefires in Syria – and the problem is far worse in the case of a national truce – is the hatred between government and rebel sides is so intense that there needs to be monitors to implement and police any agreement or it will collapse. Without such a mechanism, however, nobody will relax their fingers on the trigger. A UN monitoring mission operating in Syria in 2012 was more successful than it was given credit for, but few governments these days will be willing to risk their soldiers for a UN mission in a place as dangerous as Syria.

The most important question now is the extent to which the failure of the ceasefire is followed by an escalation in fighting as happened in some, but not all, parts of Syria after the last unsuccessful truce in February. The Syrian army will presumably press ahead with its siege of East Aleppo and establishing greater control over Damascus and Homs while the armed opposition – that never offered much under the US-Russian agreement – will launch counter-offensives in the countryside around Aleppo and south towards Hama.


The degree of violence in Syria is never decided solely by local antagonists but by the extent to which their regional backers – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Iran – are willing to support them. This has been the pattern in the past and is likely to continue. What is unclear is how far the US and Russia are capable of real cooperation and how far both were trying over the last week to get their local allies to abide by the truce.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Russia, Syria 
Hide 12 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. Ghostship says:

    Indeed, an interesting fact to emerge from the incident is that the US claims it told the Russians about its intended airstrike on Deir Ezzor before it took place and, soon after, the Russians told them they were hitting the wrong target while the airstrikes were still going on.

    As usual, the Americans are being somewhat disingenuous:

    A US official told CNN they broadly described the geographic area to the Russians — as is customary — before the strike but did not give a precise location. The coalition thought it was going after an ISIS tank position.

    Stupid Russians for thinking that the American military know what they’re doing. So “we’re bombing a base we know is ISIS in the Deir Ezzor region” might seem acceptable, but “we’re bombing a base we think is ISIS at E40.12, H35.24” would have given the Russians a chance to warn the USAF/RAAF/RAF/RDAF off.

  2. Contrary to Patrick’s notions, this was clearly a deliberate attack on the Syrian forces allowing ISIS to seize territory which de facto establishes an independent Salafist state in eastern Syria – precisely as described in the 2012 US intelligence report that predicted such a result. Der Ezzor

    See here:
    Deir Ezzor Attack Enables The “Salafist Principality” As Foreseen In The 2012 DIA Analysis

    This implies that the US-Russian “deal” was a sham from the beginning. It further implies that Barack Obama remains a serial liar in his last days,

    It further implies that he continues to push for the degradation and eventual overthrow of Syria for the purpose of enabling Israel to attack Hizballah in Lebanon in the Bekaa Valley via Syria territory without engaging serious Syrian forces. This in turn will enable Israel to start a war with Iran without worrying about the Syrian and Hizballah forces being involved.

    This has been the plan from Day One of the Syria crisis and continues to be so. If Hillary Clinton is elected, we can expect this plan to be escalated.

  3. Diogenes says:

    It’s interesting that the vassal state Denmark, UK and Australia are sharing the blame with the US for committing this treacherous airstrike on Syrian forces. “All for one and one for all”- nothing but a pathetic cover ploy.

    Since the US refuses to pre arrange targeting with the Russians,so “accidents” will happen, so why don’t the Russians spread their S400 air umbrella over much of Syria and create a total no fly zone to discourage rogue airstrikes by Israel and the US? Of course that would be a Russian escalation of the war.

    The US will never be a sincere partner in a cease fire or peace treaty so they won’t call their proxies, Turkey, Qatar and Arabia, so this war needs to be taken into those countries into due course or it won’t ever end. What kind of a deal could Syria, Russia and Iran make with these rogue state to call it off?

    Sadly, a deal would require a Qatari-Turkey gas pipeline to Europe, something Assad already refused. If he had consented this war would not have been prosecuted by the offended parties.
    It’s beyond comprehension that these countries with a vested interest in constructing this pipeline think the price of destroying Syria and it’s people was “worth it”.

    The warring belligerents have gone” too far down the rabbit hole ” or cesspit to extract themselves from this war now. Syria and it’s allies must ruthless kill all the jihadists in Syria and drive out all Turkish and American occupiers. Of course this calls for a regional war eventually; time to spread the death and destruction far and wide, and all this over a fucking pipeline.

    • Replies: @anti_republocrat
  4. Russia’s actions in Syria are destroying the reputation of the USA in the world.

    Everywhere I go now I see commentary acknowledging that the USA is supporting the Islamic State through the Saudi’s or aid or pretending to fight them. The utterly abhorrent and cruel actions of the Islamic State have tainted the USA and all the western democracies; morally we are seen, quite rightly as little better than the barbarians who enslave and behead Christians.

    Russia’s intervention has revealed all this, and now fearful of a confrontation the superpowers dance about each other in Syria, the US in particular seems to believe it can bring Russia to heel with sanctions and asymmetric pressure via Nato and Ukraine.

    Obama and Power talk still as if their moral superiority is a given, but it is only now in the MSM journalists, those fearful of losing their job. In the blogs it is clear the fog has lifted, the USA is seen as corrupt and duplicitous.

    Many many people in the west are still completely ignorant, they are watching their porn or sucking on lattes or thickshakes.

    What will they do if Putin decides he has had enough?

    Obama and Power and Hillary are idiots. The west is failing, it has put university student moronic radicals in charge and they are completely out of their depth. The universities have educated morons more interested in gender free bathrooms and killing unborn babies than understanding the world and the limits to their power, let alone understanding what it is to be a moral person.

    We are in a terribly dangerous time, we are led by fools much like the aristocratic idiots who blundered into the Great War and sowed the seeds for World War 2.

    • Replies: @anti_republocrat
  5. The FAULT lies with anyone who is dumb enough to believe the US Ziocon war mongers want peace. They live in a 1984 world where peace is war and that’s all they’ll ever give us, war.

  6. It looks like more people think Russia is more right on what to do in Syria than ISIS , United States and AlQaida . Are we bombing the wrong side again ?

  7. The Neocons, Zionists, Gulf States and Turkey have wanted Assad deposed and Syria partitioned or placed under supine Sunni rule for a very long time. 5 years into a very violent Civil War, they are in no mood to desist.
    Contrast the attack on the aid convoy this Monday with the shooting down of the Korean airliner KAL007 in 1983. The Reagan Administration was certainly forceful in its response, but ultimately restrained. One of the most fraught incidents of the Cold War passed fairly quickly as both sides had a sure grasp of reality and were very aware of the consequences should things go wrong.
    I don’t know the true nature of the attack on the aid convoy. It seems quite confused in detail. However, this didn’t stop the Obama administration labelling it a ” War Crime ” and deranged Irish American harpy Samantha Power acting like a deranged Dublin fishwife. Such is the present standard of American diplomacy.

  8. Deir Ezzor city is not exactly a crowded area of operation. It is an isolated outpost in eastern Syria where ISIS has surrounded the Syrian army for about 2yrs. I could accept the ‘it’s congested here’ argument if this was somewhere in Aleppo where you have the Kurds, the Syrian Army, ISIS, and all ofthe other rebel groups but not here.

    This was the perfect place for a hunt and kill operation. The coalition aircraft came from Iraq which would be a blind spot for Russia’s RADAR. Add to this the fact that the Pentagon was very vocal about not wanting to have joint operations to bomb Al Nusra (or bomb Al Nusra in genera) and this has the look and feel of an ambush.

  9. “…a high degree of US-Russian military cooperation…” would not consist of the US military notifying Russia a few minutes before the strike that coalition forces plan to strike ISIS “in the vicinity of Deir ez-Zor” a few minutes before the strike. “…a high degree of US-Russian military cooperation…” would consist of the US military identifying, hours in advance, the precise GPS coordinates they plan to attack, giving the Russians plenty of time to check their maps, consult the Syrians and respond ahead of time, “Oh, no. Don’t do that. Those are our guys.” Better yet, “…a high degree of US-Russian military cooperation…” might consist of the US military inquiring of the Russians, “Hey, Dmetri, we’ve got some extra ordnance to use up before the end of the quarter. Is there some ISIS stronpoint you’d like us to bomb?”

    More importantly, “…a high degree of US-Russian military cooperation…” requires the US to order its allies — FSA — to separate itself from designated terrorist groups and to recognize that any FSA units refusing to do so are, in fact, terrorist organizations. Kerry has it backwards. Non-guided bombs don’t make it “difficult” to separate FSA rats from al-Nusra rats. They make such separation “imperative.” furthermore, US guided bombs also seem to have trouble picking the people they kill where separation has not been achieved.

  10. @Diogenes

    The pipeline is not the foremost consideration; it’s just an excuse to hide the real reason for this war on Syria.

    The real objective of the war on Syria is not to build a pipeline or to get rid of Assad. The real objective is simply to have a war in order to justify the sale of military equipment and the promotion of incompetent suits and stars. Jill Stein said it very succinctly, “US foreign policy is a marketing strategy for selling weapons.” See because you won’t get what you want if you don’t tell people what you want.

  11. @Pat the Rat

    Great post, Pat the Rat.

    So my takeaway is, yes all this (embarrassment) really truly is all Russia’s (Putin’s) fault. If he would simply mind his own business, the US could simply go on indefinitely with what it’s doing, led by “university student moronic radicals” like Samantha Powers and in fact Hillary and Barack themselves.

    I’d rather you keep unborn babies out of the discussion. I think the sin of a young woman shirking personal responsibility for her past actions by deciding to abort a pregnancy, an act likely to continue occurring no matter government prohibitions, pales in comparison to governments deciding to kill thousands of innocents through aggressive war. If your point is that “right to lifers” ought to be included in the peace movement, I agree 100%. I just don’t want the “pro-choice” crowd to be excluded. The issue is far to big and needs no distraction.

  12. […] The UNZ Review: US-Russian Ceasefire in Syria Has Broken Down, But Who Is at Fault? By PATRICK COCK… […]

Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Patrick Cockburn Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Full Story of the Taliban's Amazing Jailbreak
"They Can't Even Protect Themselves, So What Can They Do For Me?"
"All Hell is Breaking Loose with Muqtada" Warlord: the Rise of Muqtada al-Sadr