A tenuous ceasefire came into effect beginning midnight Damascus time on February 27, 2016. The ceasefire was facilitated by the agreement between Russia and the United States of America, co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group and the unanimous resolution of the United Nations security council to support the ceasefire in Syria. All parties to the agreement were called upon to fulfil their commitments to end hostilities. The ceasefire seems to be holding, except for some sporadic violations. Russia has halted air strikes that had hitherto pounded anti-government rebel strongholds and Islamic State assets. Syrian civilians have been under siege for quite some time, and the civil war and the IS’s barbarism have taken over 300,000 lives and driven over 11 million Syrians out of their homes to become refugees.
In Syria and Iraq, the combination of State failure, civil war and the rise of the IS has created the most serious crisis in the region. Regional and extra-regional powers have created such a mess that no cohesive approach in dealing with the IS could be developed. External powers funded and supported disparate groups, resulting in the rise of extremist Islamic jihadist militias that now have territory and revenues to expand their depredations in the region and beyond. A political decision in favour of regime change in Syria led to a cul-de-sac and no external power displayed the will to change course, except to let regional players get sucked into the quagmire and wait for the final outcome. The Russian intervention was the first tangible step in getting Syria out of this rut.
Russia’s muscular move delivered not only a much needed morale boost to the Syrian government but also assisted the government forces in gaining ground against the rebels and the IS. The tipping po