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'Local Peace': This is the Way to Save Aleppo

© AFP 2021 / GEORGES OURFALIAN Syrian pro-government forces take part in an operation to take control of Aleppo's Suleiman al-Halabi neighbourhood, which is divided by the frontline that separates the rebel-held east and regime-held west of the northern city, on September 30, 2016
Syrian pro-government forces take part in an operation to take control of Aleppo's Suleiman al-Halabi neighbourhood, which is divided by the frontline that separates the rebel-held east and regime-held west of the northern city, on September 30, 2016 - Sputnik International
To solve the crisis in Aleppo the rebels should disarm and negotiate a "local peace" with the Syrian government, appealing to the UN and international community, French journalist and author Renaud Girard suggested. Girard warned that if the rebels retake Aleppo, the city would be engulfed by an all-out massacre.

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.

Rebel fighters fire towards positions of regime forces in Ramussa on the southwestern edges of Syria's northern city of Aleppo on August 6, 2016 - Sputnik International
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At the same time the French journalist warned against providing more support to the so-called "moderate rebels" in Aleppo.

"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.

Rebel fighters part of the Jabhat Fatah al Sham, attend military training in the besieged rebel held Aleppo, Syria October 26, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Citing the results of a survey conducted by ORB International back in July 2015, the French journalist pointed out that 63 percent of Syrian respondents believe that al-Nusra Front has a negative influence on the matters in Syria.

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.  

Russian aircraft at the Hmeymim Air Base in Syria. - Sputnik International
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The Assad opposition is claiming quite the opposite, beating the drums about the possibility of an all-out "massacre" in Aleppo, once the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) retake the city from the Islamists.

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 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.

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