One of the ways to solve the Aleppo crisis is to negotiate peace at the local level, not waiting for a comprehensive settlement of the Syrian conflict, French journalist and author Renaud Girard suggested in an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro.
"I propose the following solution for Aleppo: not to wait for a large comprehensive settlement of the Syrian crisis, but to conclude a local peace [in the first place]. The rebels should disarm and appeal to the UN, the US, Russia (a patron of Damascus) and Turkey (which is the protector of the rebels) to guarantee their safety," Girard underscored.
"In Aleppo, there are two categories of people," Girard highlighted, "the rebels and civilians, which are used as shields by the rebels."
"Civilians need help (through diplomacy and humanitarian action), not the rebels. The rebels are Islamist militants, who have been engaged in numerous abuses," he stressed.
Girard noted that the West should avoid making the same mistake it made in Afghanistan by arming Islamists which were fighting against the Soviet military. Similarly, the West released an Islamist genie from the bottle in Iraq by ousting a secular "dictator" in Saddam Hussein, who posed no threat to the West.
"The major rebel group holding Aleppo is al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda," the French journalist reminded the interviewer.
While Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is currently being presented as an oppressor, it would be completely inappropriate to equate Assad to the al-Qaeda's offspring al-Nusra Front, according to Girard. While Assad is a guarantor of religious freedom, for al-Nusra Front such freedom is absolutely inacceptable, he noted.
"There are still a lot of civilians in Aleppo. Why the rebels have not yet taken control over the entire city? Because many Aleppo residents are against them," Girard stressed.
Interestingly enough, the same survey also indicated that almost 72 percent of the respondents expressed their disapproval of the actions of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, while 63 percent stated that they regard the Free Syrian Army's (FSA) influence on the country's affairs as "negative."
"If the rebels win, there would be a great massacre in Aleppo, which would be turned into an Islamic emirate, both an imitation and rival of Daesh," the French journalist warned.
Back in February, speaking to Sky News Abu Shakra, the FSA commander in Aleppo, predicted a "massacre" in the city.
"If they [the SAA] cut the road out, they will take the city. There will be a massacre," he claimed.
The situation unfolding around the SAA' offensive is strikingly similar to the events which preceded the West's invasion of Libya.
In his September article for Consortiumnews.com US scholar James W. Carden drew historic parallels between the conflicts in Syria and Libya.
"It would be fair to view the debacle in Libya as a dress rehearsal for the war outside powers have been waging against the sovereign government of Syria for the past five years," Carden underscored.
He recalled that the invasion was justified by the assumption that "Gaddafi was on the verge of committing a wholesale slaughter of the rebel stronghold Benghazi."
Carden cited the UK Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee's September report that concluded that "the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element."
Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry announced Saturday that the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Arab Air Forces have not conducted any strikes in Aleppo for 19 days, despite the continuing provocations on the part of the rebels.
"Despite… shelling [of the Castello road in Aleppo] and the continuing provocations on the part of militants, the aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Air Forces have not been conducting strikes in Aleppo for 19 days already," Konashenkov said on Saturday.
However, amid Russia's and Damascus' efforts to solve the Aleppo crisis, radical militants continue to violate the humanitarian pause.
On Thursday at least eight people fell victim to a second chemical attack launched by the rebels in southwestern Aleppo.
"Over the past week, terrorists fired mortars and "hellfires" [improvised cannons] 64 times at western Aleppo. The shelling killed 127 and wounded 254 civilians," Chief of the Russian General Staff Main Operational Directorate Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi said Thursday.