On 30 October, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura presented the idea of 'freeze' zones where fighting would be stopped, to start with Aleppo. While some powerful voices rejected the plan, others saw in it a new hope to change the dynamics of conflict.
The 'freeze' plan is currently being translated into an operational plan and is gaining some traction. The Syrian regime and its key ally Russia indicated a willingness to support the UN proposal. Their support, however, fuels suspicion that the 'freeze' will only be used to consolidate territories and to regroup and rearm for further fighting.
De Mistura introduced the term 'freezes' as distinct from previous local ceasefires. These ceasefires were often a forced surrender of the opposition and the population after a campaign of starvation and bombardments by the Assad regime. These were tactical security arrangements and had no connection to a political process. Taking into consideration previous local ceasefires and the urgent situation in Aleppo, this special edition of Syria Alert, prepared in cooperation with our Syrian partner Etana, addresses the question: Can de Mistura's 'freeze' plan save Aleppo, and under what conditions?