It’s been a year since Russia intensified its involvement in Syria by sending war planes, missiles, and personnel to support its long-time ally Bashar al- Assad in a civil war that started five and half years ago, after Assad responded to peaceful anti-government protests with brutal force.
The effect of this ongoing war has been devastation - more than 400,000 people dead and millions displaced; large swaths of land seized by terrorists; antiquities pilfered and destroyed.
In recent weeks the attacks on the besieged city of Aleppo, which has been relentlessly bombed by Russian and Syrian aircraft, has highlighted the plight and agony of the Syrian people, ruthlessly attacked by their leader and by an isolated foreign nation struggling to maintain its influence in the region, no matter the cost in blood and misery.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said, “What Assad and Russia are doing in Aleppo is soul-shattering…What they are doing is sowing…the doom of this country and these people and this proud civilization of Syria.”
But Russia is not the only nation that has been working to protect Assad’s grip on power, allowing him to continue his campaign of barrel-bombing, starving, and gassing the Syrian people; so, to an even greater extent, has Assad’s chief regional ally Iran, as Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently noted:
“Iran is clearly, along with its proxy Hezbollah, the most serious impediment to ending the civil war, in that its support for the [Assad] regime is the most significant of all.”
Deputy Secretary Blinken said that one consequence of Russia’s, Hezbollah’s and Iran’s participation in the Syrian conflict is that they will be seen “throughout the world and in the region as complicit with Assad…in the slaughter of Sunni Muslims.”
Because of Russia’s attempts to pursue a military victory “over the broken bodies” of the Syrian people, as Secretary of State Kerry has said, the United States has suspended bilateral engagement with Russia over Syria. But the United States, will not give up on the Syrian people. “We are not abandoning the pursuit of peace,” Mr. Kerry declared. “We are not going to leave the multilateral field. We are going to continue to try to find a way forward in order to end this war.”