Battle lines in Syria’s second city of Aleppo have, for the moment, become entrenched.
Rebels have retreated from the frontline where they faced regime troops. But they are regrouping and digging in as they are pounded by government jets.
“It’s getting more and more difficult to speak to people in Aleppo,” Mounir Atassi, a Syrian from Homs currently living in Britain, told Socialist Worker.
“The regime forces are targeting the poorest areas from the air. They want to lay siege to Aleppo as they have done in Homs,” he went on, “But it won’t be easy. It is a big crowded city.”
Western leaders continue to use the violence of president Bashar al-Assad’s assault as justification for intervention. The US has announced a new round of sanctions and Hillary Clinton has floated the idea of a no fly zone.
Some sections of the Tory Party are calling for outright military intervention. Former British foreign secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind argues the government should “take the very difficult decision of providing military support to the insurgents.”
“That way”, he said, “you may enhance the conflict in the short term, in the longer term you're more likely to save thousands of lives.”
But any Western intervention will make the situation worse. If the imperialist powers are allowed to “enhance” the conflict in pursuit of their own interests, it will only increase the violence that ordinary people are suffering.
They only want to support sections of the opposition that will be amenable to working with the West in the future. It is the post-Assad transition that they are most concerned with—not the plight of Syrian civilians.
Mounir explained the resilience of those suffering Assad’s repression. He said, “In the old part of Homs people have been under a complete siege for 70 days. In the first weeks people could smuggle food and medicine in and people out. Now even that is not possible.
“When my family send me footage you can see that the regime has destroyed the city, it looks like Grozny or Sarajevo. But this is a revolution from the grassroots.” The revolt relies on the commitment of the masses to bring down the Assad regime, he added.
A code of conduct pledge
The Syrian revolution’s leadership in the Local Coordinating Committees (LCCs) has issued a code of conduct for the growing ranks of the Free Syrian Army.
Many key battalions have signed up—the military leadership of Deir el-Zour, Hama, Homs, Damascus and other rebel areas. An Aleppo battalion also agreed to its charter, but as yet the major Unity Brigade that is defending the city has not agreed.
The initiative is about keeping the resistance under popular control. The articles pledge to “defend Syrian revolutionaries in the face of tyranny and ensure the continuation of the revolution to oust the regime”.
It sets out the procedures to deal with prisoners, and for raising money for the rebellion. But crucially, it asserts the need to uphold religious tolerance and the unity against any attempt to foment sectarianism.