Following US and Russian agreement to a cessation of hostilities on 22 February 2016, the Syrian government and the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) representing opposition groups in Syria have stated their acceptance of the agreement on the 23 February 2016.
The cessation of hostilities does not include IS, Jabhat al Nusrah or groups associated with it. It is unclear what ‘associated’ means, for example wether it is groups that have stated their allegiance to either group or if it is groups fighting alongside it on the battlefield.
If it is the later then this would include many groups deemed moderate by Western politicians and main stream media news outlets, Russia would continue attacking IS, Jabhat al Nusrah and any groups fighting alongside it on the front lines.
This could allow Western politicians and main stream media news outlets to continue the narrative that Russia is attacking predominantly ‘moderate’ groups and has failed to honour the latest agreement.
It could also allow Russia to continue it’s airstrikes in support of the Syrian Arab Army and associated militias, continue to expand it’s territorial control and suggest that western countries, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are supporting terrorists.
Regardless, it is now undeniable that Russia’s intervention and subsequent assault on opposition groups has forced western politicians and opposition groups it suports to the negotiating table.
Unfortunately it is difficult to see the agreement lasting. Both sides can exploit any failing in the agreement to suit their respective on going narratives.
The Syrian military has reserved the right to:
“respond to any breach by [terrorist] groups against Syrian citizens or against its armed forces”.