MADRID – It has been nearly four years since the first uprisings in Damascus and the beginning of the Syrian civil war. Across the country, more than 240,000 people have died. Another 7.5 million have lost their homes or fled the country, becoming refugees. Syria is drowning in a bloody, cruel, and pointless conflict. It is time to say “enough” – starting in the devastated city of Aleppo.
Bringing the fighting to a halt will not be easy. It will require the coordination and cooperation of regional and global rivals. But the chance to forge a ceasefire is not only an opportunity to end a humanitarian disaster; it could also mark the beginning of a new approach to resolving and preventing crises elsewhere.
Aleppo is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world – and one of the bloodiest battlegrounds in the war. The ancient walled city is one of Syria’s six UNESCO World Heritage sites. Much of it has already been irreversibly damaged. Today, Aleppo is under rebel control – surrounded by the Syrian army. Militants loyal to the Islamic State lie in wait a few dozen kilometers away.
The series of international failures in this conflict so far is inexcusable. Each subsequent breakdown in negotiations, including the Geneva talks, has not only led away from peace, but has also contributed to calamitous developments, including the resurgence of extremist terrorism and the emergence of the Islamic State.