“To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace”

“Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.” – Tacitus, Agricola Ch. 30.

Since U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against the Daesh began four years ago, in August 2014, alliance spokespersons have put the civilian death toll at just over 1,000 civilians for both Syria and Iraq, and say all is done to prevent civilian deaths.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says today, however, that Syria strikes alone have since killed 2,832 civilians, including 861 children and 617 women. This monitoring group relies on a network of sources inside Syria and tracks flight patterns, aircraft involved and ammunition used to determine who carries out raids.

Meanwhile, more than 360,000 people have been killed across Syria since the conflict broke out in 2011, nearly a third of them civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory.

And yet the majority of Western journalists continue to vaunt what they call Assad’s “success” in the war, and little is said about Turkey’s forceful diplomacy in bringing the Russians round to the idea of a peaceful solution to the crisis in Idlib. Obviously, only with an opposition movement is any talk of a “political solution” not senseless delusion. However, while the fighting groups under the National Liberation front (NLF) umbrella have agreed the terms of the truce, there still remains the question of Hay’at Tahrir el-Sham (HTS), which has not come to a decision yet and hosts a lot of foreign fighters not willing to surrender.

Many doubt that Turkey will be able to meet the October 15 deadline to disarm HTS. But this misunderstands the relative position of Turkey with respect to HTS, which is not only surrounded by Turkish military positions, but has been warned of Turkish determination. It is hard not to conclude that the Syrians within HTS will choose not to confront Turkey’s counterterror capabilities, in the shadow, furthermore, of massive Turkish artillery positions along the border, and in the certainty that their supply lines can be cut from all sides at once.

Ultimately, only in the Turkish controlled areas of Syria, in Idlib, Afrin, A’zaz, el-Bab, and Jarablus, all of which have been spared the Grozny treatment, will Syrians flourish and build a future. By contrast, it will take generations and many tens of billions of US Dollars for life to come back to Aleppo and Homs. As far as Raqqa is concerned – once an imperial city of the Omayyad Arab dynasty- so long as it remains in the control of the Marxist PYD/YPG organisation, the city will stay as a mere shadow of its former self. Meanwhile, the PYD’s capitalist masters (happy as the US is for the services of Kurds as proxies in its aimless wars) have point blank refused to commit funds for the reconstruction of Syria.