The latest and rare paper victory for Syria has yet to bring forth any change on the ground or even begin to halt the bloodshed. I believe the United Nations Resolution 2254 has been repeatedly violated since its adoption on December18, frequently by Russia – a signatory to the agreement. Without any consequences ensuing for the continued breaches, the agreement will ultimately prove meaningless.
On December26, at least nine people were killed, including five children, when Russian aircraft aerially bombarded a school in the Jarjanaz area of Idlib province. Video footage and photographs of the attack aftermath, circulating on Twitter, showed familiar scenes: Blood-soaked sidewalks, endless rubble and tiny, mangled bodies. One day prior to that deadly attack, the Syrian Network for Human Rights indicated that Russia carried out a number of airstrikes on a women and children’s hospital in Aleppo, rendering it useless.
Important actors have agreed on the steps that need to be taken in Syria; those ignoring what they have just vowed to uphold must be dealt withBrooklyn Middleton
Quite clearly, both attacks were in flagrant violation of stipulation number thirteen of resolution 2254, which indicates that all signatories have agreed to “cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such, including attacks against medical facilities and personnel.”
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has just released a briefing detailing Russia’s indiscriminate bombing campaign since it intervened militarily in the country. Director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Program Philip Luther noted that there was damning evidence indicating Russia may have carried out war crimes in Syria, “by striking residential areas with no evident military target and even medical facilities, resulting in deaths and injuries to civilians.”
Bombing civilian sites
In addition to Russia’s continued attacks against civilians, reports indicate forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad carried out a chemical weapons attack, possibly using Sarin, in the rebel-held town of Moadamiyeh, located south west of Damascus, on December 23. At least five people were reportedly killed. There is no likelihood Russia and the Assad regime will sit down for talks to discuss the most complex matters of the conflict when they refuse to even halt bombing civilian sites.
This critical point should trigger a shift in the current focus of future discussions: First, stop the bloodshed and then talk later. Russia’s failure to uphold one of the most basic tenets of the new resolution underscore its inability to act as a partner for peace in Syria. There can be no genuine progress made on bringing stability to Syria while parents are digging their children out of rubble or people are suffocating to death from toxic gas.
All signatories of the resolution should convene for an urgent meeting and confront Russia directly. The failures of the U.S.-Russia backed chemical weapons deal, which resulted from a lack of following through and trusting the regime to report its own inventory, should not be repeated with this latest resolution. Important actors have agreed on the steps that need to be taken in Syria; those ignoring what they have just vowed to uphold must be dealt with.
The worst possible outcome of continued negotiations with Russia – who act on behalf of the murderous Assad regime both diplomatically and militarily – would be allowing them to continue carrying out indiscriminate attacks while signing agreements they have no intention of honoring.
Brooklyn Middleton is an American Political and Security Risk Analyst currently based in New York City. She has previously written about U.S. President Obama's policy in Syria as well as Bashar al-Assad's continued crimes against his own people. She recently finished her MA thesis on Ayatollah Khomeini’s influence on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, completing her Master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies. You can follow her on Twitter here: @BklynMiddleton.
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