Two years since the revolution began, the war is still raging in Syria. On February 12, though, a breakthrough came about when an airfield near Aleppo was captured by a rebel group. For the first time, rebels were able to seize usable warplanes. This not only signifies a triumph on their part, but also marks a change in their approach – as battles in cities have now shifted to attacks on military bases.
About a month ago, rebels in Syria had captured the Taftanaz airfield in northern Syria. In retaliation, the government forces launched air-attacks on al-Jarrah, in a fashion similar to their actions in response to past instances of rebel capture of airfields. The capture of war planes is a shot in the arm for the Syrian National Council. Thus far, governmental troops have been able to attack ground-based rebel attacks through their use of air-power, but it remains to be seen how these aircrafts will be flown – by the defected pilots or otherwise.
The civil war seems unrelenting, as the death toll is on a steady rise since March 2011. Political efforts are also slowly continuing on the side. Recently, UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s deputy, Mokhtar Lamani met the rebel Revolutionary Military Council near Damascus, talking with civilian leaders. The SNC’s leader has offered to meet government officials if the regime agrees to releasing 16,000 political prisoners, and renews passports held by Syrians outside the country.
However, the odds against a settlement are slowly lengthening on both sides. There are continued divisions within the coalition, and arming the rebel forces internationally is now a vetoed option. The continued protraction of force and the pursuit of military means by the Syrian government and its opponents is in no one’s interest. Kofi Annan’s original plans as augmented by the Geneva Plan should take root – not only because it is in Syria’s interests internally, but externally as well, seeing as how Russia and the US are in agreement over it.
Only Syria needs to agree to it and accept it.