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Is Last Week's Russian Peace Deal in Syria Already Falling Apart?

Is Last Week's Russian Peace Deal in Syria Already Falling Apart?

This weekend the UN Security Council unanimously voted to support the Syrian peace deal that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Thursday.

The resolution, approved on New Year’s Eve, calls for widespread humanitarian aid throughout Syria and expects a meeting between the Syrian government and rebel representatives to occur in January. 

The resolution states that a “Syria-led political process” is the “only sustainable solution to the current crisis” and reconfirms the UN’s commitment to Syria’s sovereignty.

But while the Council talks about peace, rebels warn that pro-government forces are already violating the fragile cease-fire with airstrikes on opposition-held towns in the water-rich Barada Valley region.

Destruction came from above Saturday, which marked the 10th consecutive day of violence for those living in the Barada Valley. Locals say the Lebanese Hezbollah militants – an important Assad ally – are to blame for the ongoing airstrikes. At least seven people have been killed in the Barada Valley region since the peace deal “went into effect” last Thursday.

Rebels have also criticized the government for signing different deals with Moscow and the UNSC. A statement released by a 11 rebel factions argues that the version signed in Ankara omits “a number of essential and non-negotiable points.”

Civil war has been raging in Syria for over six years. In 2016 alone, the fighting claimed an estimated 50,000 lives – 13,000 of which were civilians. The total death toll is estimated at about 400,000.

If Moscow’s peace deal holds, the Syrian government will be expected to meet with opposition representatives for the first time in nearly a year. The meeting will take place in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana with Russia, Iran, and Turkey as mediators.

Officials from Syria and Iran met Saturday in Tehran to discuss Iran’s role in the peace deal, while Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani discussed the upcoming meeting during a phone call.

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