Cease-fire in Syria? Support from Iran and Turkey boosts UN envoy's bid
Iran and Turkey back opposite sides in the Syria conflict, but the two powers are united in support for UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's proposal for a cease-fire later this month.
(Page 2 of 2)
"This crisis cannot remain confined within Syrian territory," he told reporters. "Either it is solved, or it gets worse... and sets [the region] ablaze."Skip to next paragraph
Middle East Editor
Ariel Zirulnick is the Monitor's Middle East editor, overseeing regional coverage both for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She is also a contributor to the international desk's terrorism and security blog.
Malaysia Airlines plane missing: Stolen passports raise suspicions of terrorism (+video)
EU gets tougher on Russia, but is Germany putting brakes on stronger sanctions?
NATO airstrike that kills Afghan soldiers deals fresh blow to ties
Chinese official: Train station attackers were trying to 'participate in jihad'
Egypt sets sights on Hamas in widening anti-Islamist campaign
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
With support from Iran and Turkey secured, the next obstacle facing Brahimi is the Syrian opposition's lack of a unified leadership. The Syrian government has cited this as a key reason it has been unwilling to reach any previous agreement with the rebels, saying that even if one representative of the rebels signs an agreement, the number of factions means there is no guarantee of total buy-in from the opposition.
Other countries have put significant pressure on the rebels to put aside their differences. Reuters reports that Qatar and Turkey have brokered an agreement to unite the various factions fighting the Assad regime.
"The agreement has been reached, they only need to sign it now," one anonymous rebel source said. "[Foreign supporters] are telling us: 'Sort yourselves out and unite, we need a clear and credible side to provide it with quality weapons.' "
But it appears that at least some countries are not waiting for greater unity among rebel fighters. The Wall Street Journal reports that video footage of fighting in Syria earlier this week shows rebel forces firing advanced portable antiaircraft weapons – the first such instance in the conflict, according to rebels and regional experts. According to fighters, they have managed to down Syrian Army helicopters.
Weapons that give rebels the ability to shoot down regime aircraft could be a game-changer for a conflict in which regime forces have so far enjoyed vast military superiority, particularly because of the Air Force's ability to bomb rebel positions.
"Northern Syria is awash with advanced antitank and antiaircraft weapons. The situation has changed very quickly," a Syrian who coordinates weapons supplies from outside Syria told the Wall Street Journal.
According to rebels, the weapons, known as man-portable air defense systems (Manpads), were smuggled into the country via Turkey and Lebanon in the past two months, although Lebanon has recently cracked down on weapons smuggling and Turkey has insisted it is not involved in weapons supplying.
IN PICTURES: Inside Aleppo, Syria