Syria: Can di Mistura’s visit end Aleppo’s siege and bombardment?

UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, arrived in Damascus on Sunday for talks as Aleppo witnessed the worst bombardment in years and over 240 civilians were killed in 6 days of new military operation to break the rebels’ resistance and retrieve the city.

Around 275,000 people trapped by the siege of eastern Aleppo have been suffering from intense air strikes that battered the eastern part of the city since Tuesday, when Assad regime and its allies resumed operations after a pause lasting weeks. They launched ground attacks against insurgent positions on Friday.

In the four days since bombardment resumed on eastern Aleppo, the Observatory says it has documented 65 deaths and hundreds of injuries in east Aleppo, and four deaths and dozens of injuries in government-held west Aleppo as a result of rebel rocket fire.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said 54 people, including at least five children, had been killed in eastern Aleppo on Saturday by dozens of air strikes and barrel bombs and dozens of artillery rounds.

Airstrikes continued to hit several districts of eastern Aleppo on Sunday and the rebels answered by shelling the western parts of Aleppo.

So far about 240 people have been killed in bombing in east Aleppo and the rebel-held countryside to the west of the city since Tuesday, the observatory said.

The UN’s Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura warned Sunday time was “running out” for eastern Aleppo as he expressed international outrage over the bombing campaign.

UN envoy de Mistura arrived in Damascus on Sunday for talks about the peace in Syria, trying to convince the Assad regime to stop the bombing of Aleppo.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Mualem said in a televised news conference that de Mistura discussed the possibility of an autonomous administration being set up in eastern Aleppo, but that Damascus completely rejected this. An elected city council oversees services in the rebel-held eastern districts.

De Mistura suggested the government grant autonomy and recognize the local administration in rebel-held areas of Aleppo if jihadist fighters left the city.

Muallem called the idea a violation of “national sovereignty”.

he also said the arrangement was intended by rebel groups to control the distribution of food, and they were holding the civilians of eastern Aleppo hostage.

“It is not acceptable at all to leave some 275,000 of our people as hostages to 6,000 or 7,000 gunmen. There is no government in the world that would accept that,” the Syrian minister said.

De Mistura warned earlier this week that the government was chasing a “pyrrhic victory” in Aleppo if it does not arrive at a political settlement with the opposition.

De Mistura’s visit seems to be fated to failure, as Assad regime is seeking victory on ground no matter how many civilians die, using the Russian and Iranian support to block any attempts by the rebels to break Aleppo siege from the outside, and putting more pressure on ground to end the resistance of the remaining forces who are trapped inside.

This won’t be the first time the envoy couldn’t stop the clashes and find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria. All the peace talks rounds this year have collapsed after Assad regime and its allies continued to bomb the Syrian civilians.

The global powers didn’t use any pressure against Assad regime to stop the brutal bombing except of threatining with using force and condemning speeches over the past year.

The last  speech was made by the French foreign minister who has condemned Syrian government air raids on the besieged eastern part of Syria’s Aleppo and called for the revival of talks aimed at ending the war.

“Today’s war is all out war. I condemn this in the name of France. I will take the initiative to bring together those who share the same vision for Syria’s future in the coming hours and days,” he said.

“You can’t stand there and wait for Aleppo to fall. Because it is not only Aleppo at stake. It is all of Syria – the ‘useful’ Syria as they say. If negotiations fail, those who will be defeated will radicalise, to join those we are fighting elsewhere like ISIL and al-Nusra.”

The Assad regime forces, backed by Russian air power, Iranian ground forces and Shi’ite militia fighters from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, has been tightening its grip on rebel-held districts of Aleppo this year, and this summer achieved a long-held goal of fully encircling the area.

Recovering full control of the rebels’ last significant urban area would be the most important victory of the war so far for Assad, strengthening his control over Syria’s most populous and strategically important regions.