On the eve of the ceasefire declaration, the Syrian army was in the midst of an attack on Aleppo. Assad, like the Russians, did not consider stopping for even a second. So there was no chance for it. The American strike on a Syrian company post in Deir al-Zour was just an excuse to continue the fighting.
For four days now, the Russian and Syrian air forces have been attacking densely-populated neighborhoods in Aleppo, and the Arabic-language Russian television channel has been proudly announcing strikes on ISIS targets. ISIS has become the fig leaf. The Russians and Syrians are taking advantage of the momentum as the rebel forces in Aleppo grow weaker, and are making a brutal military effort, using all means - including destroying humanitarian convoys - to subdue Aleppo before the world wakes up. On Saturday, the United Nations' Security Council convened to discuss the situation in Syria, and the clock is ticking.
After conquering Aleppo, Assad will be able – with Russian support – to arrive at the negotiation table in a much stronger bargaining position. He already controls most districts in Damascus, and in Homs he has already taken over the al-Waer quarter, which was controlled by the rebels. Meanwhile the city of Hama is quiet. These four cities and the Alawite region in the western part of the country are what he calls "effective Syria." The Syrian president has so much confidence in himself that – in cooperation with the Russians – he has made the SSRC (Scientific Studies and Research Center) operational again. The research center focuses on creating non-conventional weapons and long range missiles.
The horrific images of the massacre in Aleppo, which have been flooding the world in recent days, are also the real face of the legacy US President Barack Obama is leaving behind in the Middle East. The man who began his presidency eight years ago by trying to appease and appeal to the Arab world with his famous Cairo speech is ending it with images of a massacre after another failed agreement brokered by his administration.
There were those in the West who believed that the secret agreements on the Syrian issue - signed last week between the American and Russian foreign ministers - conceal a sort of Sykes-Picot Agreement on dividing Syria into areas of influence. The partners from the Kremlin, however, are not exactly the gentlemen from the previous century. President Vladimir Putin's ruling style is more reminiscent of the Soviet Union's dark days, when its foreign policy was essentially managed by the KGB directors.
Putin, a former KGB man himself, surrounded himself with a group of people that does not use the acceptable diplomatic tools of foreign relations. His working methods are taken from the school of deception, fraud, lies and eliminations – the end justifies all means. When the Russians signed the Syria ceasefire agreement with the Americans, they had no intention of upholding it and did not restrain Assad. On the other hand, the Americans did not succeed to restrain the rebels they support either.
Since the agreement was signed, Aleppo looks more and more like a destroyed Stalingrad.
One of the innovations of the Syrian war effort on the ground is the introduction of the Palestinian element into the fighting. Syrian propaganda has made a point of stressing that a Palestinian force called the Al-Quds Brigade took part in the battles for the occupation of the Handarat refugee camp northeast of Aleppo.
At the same time, the Syrian army took over another area south of Aleppo, called the military colleges' area. Another 250,000 people are currently trapped under a Syrian army siege in a huge pocket in eastern Aleppo, which the regime has managed to besiege.
Israeli officials believe the fighting in Syria will last at least one more year. But a Syrian-Russian victory in Aleppo strengthens the option that Assad will get to keep his seat, this time not just with Russian and Iranian support but also with Turkish and American consent.
On the Turkish border stands a huge convoy carrying thousands of tons of food and humanitarian equipment to the 250,000 people besieged in the Aleppo pocket. This convoy is only 60 kilometers away from these hungry people, but it won't reach them. The food has already begun to rot.