Reuters reports: The Russian air force and Syrian military are preparing a joint operation to take Aleppo from rebels, the Syrian prime minister was quoted saying on Sunday, and an opposition official said a ceasefire was on the verge of collapse.
With a U.N. envoy due in Damascus in a bid to advance struggling diplomatic efforts, the “cessation of hostilities agreement” brokered by Russia and the United States came under new strain as government and rebel forces fought near Aleppo.
The ceasefire came into effect in February with the aim of paving the way for a resumption of talks to end the five-year-long war. But it has been widely violated, with each side blaming the other for breaches. The fighting south of Aleppo marks the most significant challenge yet to the deal.
Diplomacy has meanwhile made little progress with no compromise over the future of President Bashar al-Assad, his position strengthened by Iranian and Russian military support. [Continue reading…]
The Wall Street Journal reports: The Syrian regime, emboldened by battlefield victories, is pushing a political solution to end the war that keeps President Bashar al-Assad in power, in defiance of the agenda supported by Russia, his vital ally.
The plan will begin to unfold with Syrian parliamentary elections on Wednesday; the following day, Mr. Assad’s representatives will travel to peace talks in Geneva, where they are expected to push for a resolution to the conflict on Mr. Assad’s terms. [Continue reading…]