Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned Thursday that if Arab forces entered the Syrian war, they could spark a “new world war” and urged ceasefire talks instead.
“The Americans and our Arabic partners must think hard about this: do they want a permanent war?” he was quoted as telling the German Handelsblatt business daily. “Do they really think they would win such a war very quickly?”
He added: “All sides must be forced to the negotiating table instead of sparking a new world war.”
Despite calling for peace talks, the most recent Russian-backed offensive, near Aleppo, prompted opposition groups to walk out of peace talks last month while forcing tens of thousands of civilians to flee toward the Turkish border.
UN-sponsored peace talks are scheduled to restart in Geneva on February 25, although a spokesman for the Syrian opposition said last week that US President Barack Obama is seeking to halt Russia’s military onslaught first.
According to an upcoming report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, more than one in every 10 Syrians has either been killed or injured during the ongoing bloody civil war there, and nearly half the population has been displaced.
According to the report, the brutal war has brought Syrian life expectancy down from 70 before the conflict to 55.4, and 45% of the prewar population has been forced to move — 6.36 million within Syria and a further 4 million who have fled overseas.
A pledging conference hosted in London a week ago by the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the UN raised $6 billion in pledges for humanitarian assistance with promises of continued support for more than 22.5 million people within Syria and across the region in 2016.
A further $5 billion was pledged for humanitarian and development programs through 2020.