Stories

SaveSave story
Expert Voices

UN's Syria ceasefire already hobbled by flaws

Smoke rises over East Ghouta after Syrian regime airstrikes
Smoke rising from Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, following fresh air strikes and rocket fire on Feb. 27, 2018. Photo: Stringer / AFP / Getty Images

On Saturday the UN Security Council voted unanimously in favor of a ceasefire in Syria, amid an escalation of attacks by pro-Assad forces on Eastern Ghouta that has left at least 520 dead and 2,500 injured in the past five days. The resolution provides for a 30-day nationwide ceasefire, weekly UN aid convoys and medical evacuations, but has several glaring weak points.

The problems:

  • The ceasefire does not apply to ISIS or al-Qaeda, which raises fears that Russia and Assad will invoke the limited presence of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, an al-Qaeda affiliate, to continue the campaign against Eastern Ghouta.
  • No enforcement mechanisms are spelled out, even though the Syrian government has violated past ceasefires and Russia is an unreliable guarantor.
  • The violence in Eastern Ghouta is already a direct violation of existing de-escalation agreements backed by Russia, Turkey and Iran in the Astana framework.