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    February 27, 2016

    Who Benefits From the Ceasefire in Syria, and Why?

    Translated by Sufyan Jan for Fort Russ
    27th February, 2016

    The major beneficiary of the cessation of fire is the Syrian regime and their allies; according to the US-Russian agreement the positions of groups that have agreed to the ceasefire will be revealed. This makes it easy for the Syrian army and their allies to pinpoint the fronts where they are able to withdraw some of their forces from “Free Syrian Army” fronts and other groups that have distanced themselves from Al-Nusra and to re-deploy the SAA,Hezbollah, IRGC, and other Iraqi Shi’a militias on other fronts that have refused to cease their hostilities, noting that both the US and Russia have threatened to bomb those who have refused the ceasefire.

    In the south of Syria the Free Syrian army have control over most of the fronts, and the Jordanians pledged to give a list of “Moderate opposition” groups, though Al-Nusra and the Martyrs of Yarmouk brigade (pro-ISIS) are present on the southern front. It is to their advantage to vandalize the ceasefire, if they are able to, to keep the region in a state of chaos so that they would not be isolated from the rest of Damascus’ enemies where it is easier for Damascus to target them.

    As for the for the administrative center of Syria Darayya, there are the Legion of the Merciful and Jund al-Malahim forces and other moderate groupings that have distanced themselves from Ahrar Al-Sham the Al-Nusra ally, that comprise the Army of conquest, but there is also an Al-Nusra presence and other jihadi-takfiri groups, but this presence may not be a hindrance in Darayya. If existing forces prohibit Al-Nusra's activities and their allies, Al-Nusra & Co can accept the ceasefire unofficially just as in the case of the city of Hajjar Al-Aswad (Black Stone) in southern Damascus, where ISIS and Al-Nusra fighters were waiting to be transferred to Raqqa and Idlib after agreeing a ceasefire with the regime during their withdrawal to the aforementioned cities.

    As for the countryside of Homs, Hama, Idlib, and the city of Idlib itself, as well as Jisr ash-Shugur, Tadmur, Deir Al-Ramad, and the Syrian-Turkish border, where ISIS reign, they will witness an intensification of military operations. The advancement on the aforementioned fronts will be facilitated by the ceasefire since the regime forces can concentrate on fronts that are not included in the ceasefire. It is to be expected that the first ceasefire agreement sponsored by the US and Russia will not hold, though it is the first step on the 1000 mile road to peace in the Levant. It is also the first step to disentangle the Syrian opposition from the foreign jihadis that have come into Syria from 60 different countries. This will push Al-Nusra to a more precarious stance (but not ISIS since they have already separated themselves from opposition groups) and they become further isolated with each passing day. 

    Though it is certain that the military effort will not be directed towards Raqqa (ISIS capital) because the battle for Raqqa is connected to the battle for Mosul in neighboring Iraq, but the future will change in Syria starting today; a new page in alliances and the filtration of various groups that have been operating in Syria for the past 5 years has turned.

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