Why Humanitarian Ceasefires Could Be a Viable Option in Syria

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AK: It's not an easy process. partly it'll be what the opposition delegation demands now in Geneva; Homs was put on table by the opposition as the place to start. It wasn't the easiest place to implement a ceasefire, and it was meant to test if the regime can do this in an especially difficult environment. In Homs, the opposition is really in the most dire of environments; rebel groups are very weak there, under siege with few options.

The point was to signal that the regime is willing to not simply go for the military option and force everyone to surrender. If they were willing, then there could even be an open pathway to more politically-oriented ceasefires. This was a test of its willingness to get its forces to comply with ceasefires, and to actually accept real concrete concessions. There were hiccups in implementing the plan in Homs, but it's very clear that most clauses were implemented despite the mortar shelling. We were able to get some civilians out and provide access to much needed food and medical supplies, so it was relatively successful. Expecting it to be implemented without hiccups was unrealistic.

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