Putin ready to increase military role in Syria
The peace roadmap lays out a two-year path to elections for a new government, starting with a January ceasefire, and marks the first time America and Russia have reached broad consensus on Syria’s future after years of conflict that has cost more than 250,000 lives and made millions more into refugees.
But the pact was so broad that it sidestepped one of the biggest questions at the heart of Syria’s troubles, the future of President Bashar al-Assad, and several other key issues. It was also drawn up without consulting Assad or the opposition groups fighting him on the ground.
The question of whether, when and how the Syrian leader might step down will hang over any attempts to broker long-term peace. The US says he must go, while Russia has doubled down on support for him, sending bombers, weapons and cash to support his troops.
“He’s in control of two-thirds of the populated areas of Syria, he has not been defeated on the battlefield, he has the support of all the minorities, as well as the secular Sunnis,” Peter Ford, former UK ambassador to Syria told the BBC after the deal was agreed.
“Its absurd to think that the Russians have come so far with this process only to throw Assad under the bus; it’s not going to happen.”