Fisher suspects it won’t end anytime soon:
Negotiating between the rebels and the government was hard enough before the rise of ISIS over the past year. A three-way stand-off is much tougher to resolve than a two-way stand-off: a potential peace deal that might satisfy two of those groups is probably going to infuriate the third. Getting representative from all of those factions to simply come together or recognize one another’s negotiating authority is, in itself, a major hurdle. Finding something they could all agree on would be herculean.
There’s another reason this map and its divisions show the intractability of the Syrian conflict: no one side is anywhere close to a military victory.
Joshua Hersh reports on the government’s bombardment of the rebels:
All of the infrastructure of rebel-controlled Syria has shut down: the local councils, which help run city administration; the various relief agencies; even the bakeries that, with international assistance, produce bread for the starving population. Almost no one has been left behind in some parts. “There’s been areas that are just completely emptied out—not a living soul,” the aid worker said. “It’s obvious that they’re hoping to drive everyone out.”
What’s disturbing about the current round of bombings and evacuations is not simply that it’s a humanitarian disaster, but that it seems to fit a pattern of the Syrian government’s campaign to retake rebel-held parts of the north: destroy a city, empty it out.