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Opinion

Opinion: The lesson of Aleppo: War crimes are worth it

Although fighting has resumed in Aleppo, the Syrian regime, backed by Russia and Iran, has registered a military victory there. The scandal is that the world is standing by as civilians are murdered, says Rainer Sollich.

Ali Larijani was one of the first people to offer congratulations on the "liberation" of Aleppo. The "Syrian people" have "achieved a victory against the terrorists," news agencies quoted the Iranian parliamentary president as saying.

In reality, this was a shameless self-congratulatory statement. The military victory of the Assad regime in Aleppo would not have been possible without massive support from Iran and Iran-financed Shiite militia such as Lebanon's Hezbollah. And it certainly would not have been possible without the active participation of Russia in the form of brutal airstrikes on both armed rebels and defenseless civilians.

Human life counts for nothing

The fighting and bombings in Aleppo continued to the last moment, and have now even resumed. Neither side values human life. All that matters is destroying the enemy, regardless of how many lives are lost. According to the UN, horrific massacres have taken place in recent days. And even when the victors have taken the last block of houses, further atrocities can be expected.

Sollich Rainer Kommentarbild App

Rainer Sollich is head of DW's Arabic Service

The military triumph of the Assad regime is unstoppable as long as it can rely on its allies. As soon as all of Aleppo is under the control of the regime, Bashar al-Assad will almost certainly set his sights on the remaining rebel-held areas in the Idlib region. The war will go on, and claim many more victims. Who or what could still stop Assad?

It seems the answer is not the West, or the so-called "international community." The United Nations has completely failed, as departing Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has acknowledged. The world is standing by, doing nothing as people in Aleppo and the rest of the country are murdered. Diplomatic efforts continue to be made, but they are a cover for pure powerlessness. Nobody has come forward to aid Syria's civilians. And that is not likely to change under the administration of US President- Elect Donald Trump.

Russia and Iran in charge

War crimes are rewarded - that is the bitter lesson of Aleppo. Another lesson: In Syria, nothing happens anymore without Russia and Iran. The governments of Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt may have visions for a new order in the Middle East. But Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states are not likely to play along, and will continue to arm their allies. The killing will only continue.

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