FSA Ends Ceasefire
Syria’s Foreign Ministry has labeled 17 Western ambassadors as personae non gratae in a move considered to be retaliation for the mass expulsion of Syrian diplomats by Western countries last week. Also, while UN officials announced that the Syrian government would be allowing aid workers to enter four provinces and distribute urgently needed aid, it appeared that the UN-brokered ceasefire had officially come to an end. Free Syrian Army (FSA) spokeman Sami al-Kurdi declared Monday that the rebels are no longer bound by the truce and have begun attacking government forces to “defend their people.” Today, Syrian gunships attacked rebel forces in Latakia province in some of the heaviest clashes since the revolt broke out 15 months ago.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in China for a three-day visit, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin insisted that both Beijing and Moscow have been playing a “positive role” on Syria. Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of providing Bashar al-Assad with both arms and personnel. The Jerusalem Post quoted Netanyahu describing Iran and Syria’s relationship as “killers supporting killers.”
Eva Bellin and Peter Krause write in the Middle East Brief on the best way forward in Syria. They argue that military intervention would only serve to prolong the fighting, suggesting that Russia remains the “key obstacle” to peace.