Two destroyed Syrian Army tanks in Azaz, August 2012. Photo: Flickr/ Christiaan Triebert Two destroyed Syrian Army tanks in Azaz, August 2012. Photo: Flickr/ Christiaan Triebert

As aid convoys to Syria are suspended, Jonathan Maunders takes a look at where we are, and where we are going to 

In the aftermath of air strikes on a humanitarian aid convoy headed for Aleppo, the United Nations has suspended aid convoys in the country, further dooming innocent Syrians caught in the middle of a vile bloodshed that shows no signs of ceasing.

Reports have pointed the finger at Russian and Syrian forces, with Monday’s attack on a humanitarian aid convoy a blatant breach of international humanitarian law. The circumstances surrounding the attack remain unclear at this stage, but the US has wasted no time in pointing its finger at the Russian authorities in an effort to portray shock and anger. Yet, Monday’s strikes just come days after US-led warplanes barraged Syrian soldiers in the east of the country, in a reputedly unintentional attack. 

While the ceasefire was declared as an immense triumph by global powers and liberal commentators, it was clear from the outset that such an agreement was a merely a short-term interval in a campaign of terror and carnage. The break in fighting was surely a welcome break for the millions of Syrians homeless and fearing for their lives, with the promise of humanitarian aid being delivered to those in desperate need, particularly in the Aleppo area. Yet, yesterday’s attack on a humanitarian aid delivery was an all too stark reminder that peace is a distant hope, crawling further from view.

It is difficult to imagine the ceasefire would ever have led to lasting peace in the country but the circumstances of its conclusion have guaranteed a further escalation in tensions between the US and Russia, ensuring yet more carnage in the months to come. As Lindsey German rightly pointed out at the ceasefire’s establishment, the presence of such an agreement merely illustrates the gloomy situation as it is: two external powers entrenched in a bitter conflict with no victory or end in sight. However, the ferocity and bluntness with which the butchery has recommenced has been a startling shock. 

Moreover, the annihilation of a humanitarian aid convoy is a dreadful and pertinent reminder of the situation facing the millions of Syrians damned by the continued bloodbath in the region. The conflict has thus far led to the deaths of over 300,000 and has sentenced millions to displacement, with desperate poverty and hunger ripping through the country. 

It is in such carnage that the idea of a ceasefire takes shape, with the break in fighting aimed at allowing much needed food and humanitarian aid to reach those in urgent need. A delay in receiving the relevant permission from the Syrian authorities delayed the UN aid program had meant that the food and aid only recently began pouring into the country, before Monday’s hideous attack ensured the UN suspended all future convoys. 

Thus, millions of innocent Syrians in desperate need have had the promise of support, food and aid obliterated in front of their eyes, rendering the ceasefire hollow and subjecting them to yet more bloodshed and famine.

The warmongers who pushed for military intervention in December attempted to portray this as a moral and necessary intervention to protect Syrians caught up between rebel and government fire. However, those of us in the anti-war movement argued that this was a vacuous excuse that would condemn millions to extended suffering. As always, the movement has thus far been vindicated with the war showing no signs of halting and increasingly more Syrians in abject suffering. Monday’s attack is yet another example of this, illustrating that the ceasefire was only ever a hollow facade and the war will rage on, reaping continued havoc. 

The attack on the UN convoy and the subsequent suspension of all food and aid has sentenced millions of Syrians to yet more abject hunger and extreme poverty, firmly reminding us that the true victims of this war are the Syrians themselves, suspended in a bloodbath that looks further from peace than ever before.