The New York Times reports: A fragile and partial cease-fire in Syria is coming under new strains, with ground clashes and airstrikes intensifying as the government promises a new offensive and prepares to hold controversial parliamentary elections on Wednesday.
France, one of the most outspoken international opponents of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, and Iran, his closest ally, both issued warnings that the partial cease-fire, which has lasted far longer than any other and has reduced the daily death toll significantly since Feb. 27, faced the threat of collapse.
A day before the next round of peace talks is set to start, France, along with opposition negotiators, blamed new government attacks in the northern province of Aleppo and the eastern suburbs of the capital, Damascus, for endangering the agreement, while Iran blamed “armed groups” fighting the government. Officials in the United States, too, said they were very concerned about the rise in violence.
The expressions of worry mounted as the special envoy for the United Nations, Staffan de Mistura, traveled to Tehran as part of a regional tour before the talks, which are set to resume in Geneva on Wednesday. After meeting with Iranian officials, he said he had emphasized the need to maintain the partial truce, known as a cessation of hostilities. [Continue reading…]