After a period of rebel advance, the Syrian military and its loyal militias have brought areas of eastern Aleppo back under government control. Rebel districts are again under siege.
Meanwhile the US and Russia have failed to negotiate any meaningful ceasefire and both sides continue to back opposing forces in the civil war. Barack Obama has again stated that the US has “grave differences with the Russians in terms of both the parties we support but also the process that is required to bring about peace in Syria.”
Whilst any deal is meant to coordinate military operations against both Dareh al-Watan and Jabhat al-Nusra/Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the prospects of a ceasefire are far more remote. As the US declares, the Assad regime can only “sustain its offensive” with the continued support of Russia, and the current advance of Assad is only made viable due to their support. The Guardian reports that million of dollars of UN contracts are linked to companies associated with the Syrian Government.
Academic Dr Reinoud Leenders argues UN agencies have paid “lucrative procurement contracts to Syrian regime cronies who are known to bankroll the very repression and brutality that caused much of the country’s humanitarian needs”. The contracts, which the UN argues at times have to be awarded to state-sanctioned suppliers in order to allow access, show that $4 million has gone to the state-run fuel supplier, an organisation that the EU currently places on its sanction list. $5 million has been paid to the Syrian Defence Ministry controlled blood bank. The World Health Organisation reports that they have “concrete concerns” as to whether the blood supplies go beyond treating injured military personnel.
As well as dealing with the Syria Trust, a charity run by Asma al-Assad, the First Lady of Syria, and corrupt business people, a further 258 Syrian companies have been awarded contracts. Most of these are able to continue functioning due to their close links with the regime. Daesh has continued to be heavily targeted by coalition airstrikes with the recent death of Daesh commander Muhammad al-Adnani, considered a major victory.