Atlantic Council Senior Adviser Harlan Ullman writes for United Press International on the crisis in Syria:
In the past four and a half years, nearly 300,000 Syrians have been killed in a conflict largely waged by opposing evils against a civilian population. Some eight million Syrians have been displaced with about half fleeing that ravaged country. Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey have been pushed to the near breaking point in accommodating refugees. And Europe is crumbling under the weight of many hundreds of thousands of desperate people in search of even tiny measures of safety and security.
In this clash of villains, Syrian President Bashar al Assad has unleashed his military with genocidal ferocity employing chemical weapons and barrel bombs designed to kill, maim and terrorize. The Islamic State, al-Qaida, al Nusra and many other jihadi terrorist groups have acted if not in kind certainly with equivalent brutality. The Kurds have been deeply engaged. And the recent intervention of Vladimir Putin with increased Russian military forces and equipment to reinforce Assad, paralleled by Iran’s support of Damascus, adds a new and dangerous dimension to any strategic calculations.