On Monday October 29 Syrian military warplanes bombed rebel targets located on the outskirts of Damascus. The air raid was described by activists and residents as being the largest attack near Damascus since the revolution began. Measuring the extent of the damage in a war zone is very difficult, but the Syria Observatory for Human Rights said fighter jets carried out at least six air raids, and one opposition activist claimed more than 100 buildings were destroyed and said that "whole neighborhoods are deserted."
Although it might seem obvious to many people that President Assad has perpetuated a violent crackdown on demands for democratic reform in order to retain his absolute power, his government has continually asserted that this is not the case, and that the "rebels" are actually foreign extremists. One government official made a statement on Monday to report a "terrorist car bomb" that killed 10 in a Damascus suburb controlled by loyalist forces.
While none of these events may seem unusual for a nation that has essentially been engaged in a civil war for most of the last 18 months, the government air raid and rebel car bomb both happened during the last day of a "ceasefire." The ceasefire was negotiated to coincide with the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, so that Syrian citizens could observe the holiday without fear of being caught between the military and the rebels. Unfortunately the impact of the ceasefire was small, and some are claiming that about 420 people have been killed since it began on Friday.
The broken ceasefire could be a sign that the conflict has reached a point where neither side can contain the violence and hostility, or it could simply be the result of one or both factions being unwilling to temporarily halt the bloodshed. Regardless of why the ceasefire was ineffective, the conflict in Syria will not be possible to resolve with diplomacy and ceasefires. The only question remaining is whether Western and Arab nations will intervene directly, or if the people of Syria will be left alone to topple Assad's tyrannical regime.