As was expected, the tenuous UN-backed truce that was to begin in Syria on Friday and last for four days broke down almost immediately after it was supposed to go into effect. Its failure is a reminder of the international community’s limited influence in the 19-month conflict that has taken some 35,000 lives.
Each side has accused the other of violating the ceasefire. On Friday — the first day of the truce — a car bomb exploded in a Damascus public square where families were celebrating the Muslim holiday that the truce was to honor, Eid al-Adha. At least 103 people were killed in fighting across the country that day. Fighting continued Saturday and Sunday, and on Monday, what was supposed to be the last day of the ceasefire, Syrian fighter jets pounded rebel areas across the country in what activists said was the most widespread bombing in a single day since the start of the uprising. The death toll during the four-day “truce” reportedly exceeded 500.
A rebel fighter keeps an eye over an enemy position during the Eid al-Adha truce. (Photo: AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)
“I am terribly sorry … that this appeal (for a truce) has not been heard to the level we hoped it would, but that will not discourage us…because Syria is very important and the people of Syria deserve our support and interest,” UN-Arab League special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told a news conference Monday. Brahimi had originally brokered the deal between the Asad regime and the Syrian opposition. He has not said what his next steps will be to try and stop the fighting.
That the rebels and the Asad regime could not hold their fire for four short days shows that the fighting will not end anytime soon — especially without outside assistance. But as the conflict drags on, it has the ability to further disrupt neighboring Middle Eastern countries as well as create a situation ripe for jihadists such as al-Qaeda to exploit.