Syrian-Russian 'Humanitarian Offensive' Takes US Policymakers by Surprise

© Sputnik / Andrey Stenin / Go to the photo bankUnloading Russian EMERCOM plane with humanitarian aid which arrived to Latakia Airport in Syria. File photo
Unloading Russian EMERCOM plane with humanitarian aid which arrived to Latakia Airport in Syria. File photo - Sputnik International
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The joint Syrian-Russian humanitarian operation to save civilians trapped in militant-held territories in Aleppo has struck a severe blow to US policy in the country, says former diplomat and Middle East expert Vyacheslav Matuzov.

Residents walk past damaged buildings in the rebel held area of Aleppo's Bab al-Hadeed district, Syria, June 27, 2016. - Sputnik International
Several Dozen Militants in Aleppo's East Lay Down Arms in Past Two Days
On Thursday, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that Moscow and Damascus had launched a massive humanitarian operation in Aleppo, establishing exit routes for civilians and any militants wishing to leave the jihadist-held portions of the city.

Three routes were designated for civilians and militants who decided to lay down their arms and surrender, along with a fourth marked for militants who will be able to leave the city with their weapons and equipment. "We're going to take this step only in order to ensure the safety of the residents of Aleppo," Russian Defense Minister Shoigu said, referring to the exit route for armed militants.

On Saturday, Russian officials also confirmed that 14 metric tons of humanitarian aid had already been delivered to checkpoints in Aleppo, including foodstuffs, medicines and other necessities. The checkpoints have already begun the provision of hot food and medical care for local residents.

Speaking to Radio Sputnik about the operation, Vyacheslav Matuzov, a veteran former diplomat and Middle East expert with decades of experience in the region under his belt, began by recalling that together with Damascus, Aleppo is one of the two most strategically significant cities in Syria, and home to much of the country's population. In this sense, what's going on is of prime importance in bringing the war closer to an end.

People inspect a site hit by airstrikes in the rebel held town of Atareb in Aleppo province, Syria, July 25, 2016 - Sputnik International
Russian Humanitarian Initiative in Aleppo Viewed With Suspicion by US
At the same time, the analyst noted that unfortunately, he has already observed some problems with the use of the designated exit routes, with civilians attempting to leave eastern Aleppo being blocked off by terrorists who want to continue to use them as human shields.

Meanwhile, the analyst noted, the combined Syrian-Russian 'humanitarian offensive' has plunged US policymakers into a state of disarray.

"The decision on a 'humanitarian offensive'…against the positions where the terrorists have taken the local population hostage has also taken the Americans by surprise, leaving them confused as to what their next step might be. Attempting to challenge or deny the humanitarian approach would be pointless."

Furthermore, Matuzov noted that once civilians are successfully evacuated, "the US will stripped of the argument that Russian aircraft are bombing only pregnant women, children and the elderly. Our approach, complete with these humanitarian overtones, serves as a very serious blow to US policy in Syria," the analyst added. The analyst clarified that ultimately, once civilians evacuate militant-held portions of the city, the Syrian Army and its allies will be able to conduct operations to liberate eastern Aleppo without the threat of the loss of civilian life.

A general view shows a damaged street with sandbags used as barriers in Aleppo's Saif al-Dawla district, Syria March 6, 2015. - Sputnik International
Aleppo's Liberation is Close, But It'll Be a Tough Slog
Effectively, Matuzov noted, Western countries will be forced to accept Aleppo's liberation by the Syrian army, including from those militant groups which the US and other Western and regional powers have long supported. "I believe that this will be a tremendous defeat not only for the Syrian terrorist groups, but a series blow to the political positions of the US in the region," the commentator concluded. 

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