Subscribe
The Monitor's View

Syrian truce’s first goal: aiding civilians

Protecting innocence

A fragile truce in a brutal war was driven in large part by humanitarian concerns. That aim must remain, amid other motives, to help heal a broken Syria.

  • close
    A boy carries a placard during a Sept. 15 demonstration against forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and calling for aid to reach Aleppo, Syria. The placard reads in Arabic, "Every agreement which is not done with the rebels is void."
    Reuters
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

Few nations have split apart as quickly and violently as Syria. Since its war began in 2011, a quarter of its people have fled abroad. Another quarter are internally displaced. Of those, 600,000 barely survive under an aerial siege by a brutal regime. At least a dozen fighting forces are involved. Why on earth would most of these players now accept a truce?

Starting Monday, in fact, a truce, brokered by Russia and the United States, has been largely honored. Its initial aim is very simple, and the most compelling of the reasons for a lull in the violence: to allow truckloads of aid to the starving and injured civilians, especially in Syria’s former commercial hub, Aleppo.

Many other motives have helped drive the 10 months of diplomacy that led to the truce. Russia wants to show it has influence in the Middle East. The US seeks to isolate and eliminate Islamic State and an Al Qaeda affiliate. Turkey wants to stop gains by a Kurdish group. Syrian rebels fighting for democracy hope for talks that would end the Assad regime. And so on.

But aiding innocent civilians comes first. Dozens of aid groups as well as the United Nations are ready to provide relief to an estimated 6 million people inside Syria. In Aleppo, especially, some 250,000 people are in desperate need of water, food, and medical supplies.

Humanitarian motives often cut through justifications for violence. They are woven into international law and embedded in the charters of groups such as the Red Cross. Aiding Syria’s civilians is also a stepping stone toward a permanent ceasefire and possible talks in Geneva next month for a political settlement.

More than 300,000 people have been killed in Syria, a toll that cannot but weigh on the minds of most of the parties involved. A weariness with war and a compassion for the displaced civilians must eventually bring peace. US Secretary of State John Kerry says fighting will only escalate if it does not stop now. And, he says, a truce is “a last chance to be able to hold Syria together.”

Care for civilians may be all that remains of a consensus among Syria’s competing forces. If the truce holds and aid flows, Syria can rebuild itself. The rest of the world must show it cares, too, in order to salvage this pivotal Middle East country.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK