Battle for Aleppo enters third week as Syrian rebels hold on
Syrian rebel forces are believed to be far outgunned by the Army, but they've so far held off regime efforts to overrun the city.
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Spikes in violence lead to spikes in refugees, said Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The UN and partner organizations have increased their calls for international humanitarian aid as the conflict has fallen deeper into civil war, but they have only been able to raise $64 million in international support – 33 percent of their target goal, according to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.Skip to next paragraph
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Whitney Eulich is the Monitor's Latin America editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She also curates the Latin America Monitor Blog.
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And while most attention is on Aleppo, where the largest battle is raging, violence continues elsewhere. Government troops swept through a Damascus suburb yesterday, reportedly targeting unarmed civilians.
According to Reuters:
"When the streets were clear we found the bodies of at least 35 men," a resident, who gave his name as Fares, said by phone from Jdeidet Artouz, southwest of Damascus.
"Almost all of them were executed with bullets to their face, head and neck in homes, gardens and basements."
Syrian state television said "dozens of terrorists and mercenaries surrendered or were killed" when the army raided Jdeidet Artouz and its surrounding farmlands.
Tomorrow, the fighting in Aleppo will enter its third week, and some are saying now is the time to intervene. The Wall Street Journal writes in an editorial that Assad seems unlikely to fall from power anytime soon and is trying to win at any cost. Now is the time to do more than wait, WSJ writes:
All the more reason, then, for the US to intervene now, when it might be able to do so decisively and at relatively low risk. Boots on the ground are not necessary. Merely stationing an aircraft carrier 50 miles off the coast of Syria and notifying the Assad regime that it will clear the skies over Aleppo of Syrian planes and helicopters would be a warning the regime's pilots would prefer not to test.
If that seems excessively interventionist, consider the alternatives. One is that Assad could win the battle of Aleppo… That would present the U.S. with the unpleasant choice of either accepting Assad remaining in power or intervening more directly to help the beleaguered opposition.
A second alternative is a drawn-out battle for Aleppo that would, almost inevitably, turn into a full-scale humanitarian disaster…. Then there's the possibility that the fighting in Aleppo could have an inconclusive result, leading to a drawn out civil war. That is the scenario U.S. planners now seem to anticipate. But that only increases the potential for greater regional instability.
But there are others who say the moment has passed, and that it’s too late to intervene in Syria. Foreign Policy’s Aaron David Miller writes:
Don't believe any of it. The time for guilting the United States into expensive and ill-thought-out military interventions has passed. Indeed, the reasons to intervene in Syria – the hope of defusing a bloody religious and political conflict and dealing the Iranian mullahs a mortal blow – are just not compelling enough to offset the risks and the unknowns.
The reality is that Syria is in the middle of a complex internal struggle with a divided opposition, regional players with diverse agendas, and competing great powers. There's no single force on the ground – or constellation of outside powers – that can impose order. For the United States to enter the fray as a quasi-combatant would make matters more complicated, not less. Sure, US President Barack Obama could take down the Assads by force – but he would do an enormous amount of damage in the process and end up being forced to rebuild the country. Remember the Pottery Barn rule ["you break it, you buy it]? That's the last thing America needs.