Syrian government forces patrol after taking control of the village of Kiffin, on the northern outskirts of the embattled city of Aleppo on the road leading to Gaziantep, from opposition forces on February 11, 2016. AFP / GEORGE OURFALIAN
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Syria's cease-fire deal was born in Munich in the early hours of Friday morning – and pronounced dead in the same town within a day, a development that exposed just how little influence the United States now has over the conflict.The other, a potential truce, is entirely dependent on what Russia wants, Hammond said.That's a stunning admission in itself: Since when did Russia, rather than the U.S., play the deciding role in any part of the Middle East? The terms of the truce show the impotence of the U.S. in Syria.In the short term, at least, there should be no mystery about what Russia wants, according to Fyodor Lukyanov, who heads Russia's Council on Foreign and Defense Policy: Aleppo.In Syria, those minimal goals involve President Bashar Assad recapturing Aleppo, Syria's largest city before the war.If Russia won't enable any cease-fire until Aleppo is taken, that leaves the question of what happens after the city falls, or at least is surrounded.Russia may not be the dominant player in the Middle East, but when it comes to Syria, it certainly is.
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