Con­di­tions have im­proved in Syria, but chal­lenges still lie ahead on the path to peace By Gong Zheng

Beijing Review - - World -

Since March 2011, the pro­longed war in Syria has be­come a night­mare haunt­ing its peo­ple and de­liv­er­ing each of them the bit­ter taste of ter­ror. As the Syr­ian con­flict en­ters its sev­enth year, some pos­i­tive changes have oc­curred. Will the Syr­ian peo­ple seize the sliver of hope for peace?

Fa­vor­able turn

“The lib­er­a­tion of Aleppo and Palmyra, the lift­ing of the siege of Deir al-Zour and the erad­i­ca­tion of ter­ror­ism from many parts of Syria prove that vic­tory is now within reach,” Syr­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Walid Muallem said on Septem­ber 23 in his speech at the 72nd Ses­sion of the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly in New York City.

Sig­nif­i­cant progress has been made in anti-ter­ror ef­forts in Syria re­cently. The bat­tle for the so-called Is­lamic State (IS) mil­i­tant group’s de facto cap­i­tal in the coun­try, Raqqa, has reached its fi­nal stages af­ter four months of fight­ing led by the U.S.-backed Syr­ian Demo­cratic Force (SDF), a coali­tion of Kur­dish and Arab mili­tias. Ac­cord­ing to an SDF state­ment on Septem­ber 20, 80 per­cent of the city had been lib­er­ated, and they would con­tinue to clear mines and fight the re­main­ing ter­ror­ists.

In east Syria’s Deir al-Zour, gov­ern­ment forces have bro­ken the three-year siege by IS on gov­ern­ment-held parts of the city and started an of­fen­sive to lib­er­ate the rest of the city, which is a great step to­ward the com­plete vic­tory of re­mov­ing IS forces from Syria.

As for the Syr­ian civil war, par­ties in­volved have mostly im­ple­mented a tem­po­rary cease­fire in the de-es­ca­la­tion zones. Dur­ing the peace talks on Syria in Kaza­khstan cap­i­tal As­tana in May, Rus­sia, Turkey and Iran agreed to set up three de-es­ca­la­tion zones in the op­po­si­tion-con­trolled prov­inces of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo, with Rus­sia, Turkey and Iran act­ing as guar­an­tors, to de­crease the in­ten­sity of con­flict and

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