The addition of car bombs to the Syrian conflict, attacks which have appeared with increasing frequency over recent months, marks a worrying development in an already brutal and tragic conflict.
Thursday’s attack in central Damascus near the Baath party headquarters, where at least 83 were killed, is just the latest in a round of car bombings, seemingly carried out by groups from both sides of the conflict. Each side blamed the other for Thursday’s attack, both labeling it as a terrorist act.
Over the last two years of conflict, little has been made clearer in this devastating civil war than that a military solution is not possible. Hundreds of lives are being lost every week, and to what end? On both sides of the conflict, civilians are being killed, and an end point seems as distant a prospect as it ever has. The increasing use of car bombs over recent months is another sign that movements on both fronts are stalling.
This destructive war, if it continues at this level for much longer, will destroy Syria completely. the country is already unrecognizable, with its infrastructure ruined, and the once natural coexistence between sects is disappearing.
Both sides in this war are also increasingly being used and manipulated by outside powers as proxies for much bigger, global conflicts and power battles, whether financially, geographically or ideologically inspired.
Nearly two years ago, the first peaceful demonstrations were about to erupt on the streets of Syria, following similar movements in Tunisia and Egypt.
All too soon the divide between those seeking greater freedoms and those running the country became militarized, first with small arms, but now with heavy artillery, coupled with the sporadic use of car bombs and other guerrilla methods, which kill indiscriminately.
This is a template that the Lebanese know only too well, the Civil War here having followed a very similar pattern. The Lebanese are also acutely aware that the longer a conflict continues, or is allowed to continue, the harder it becomes to bridge the divides that caused it to erupt in the first place.
At this stage, neither side of the conflict appears to have the necessary power to keep in check their ranks, comprised of myriad domestic and external fighters. As such, car bombs and other senseless acts of violence will continue unabated.
The aspirations and the grievances of those who first took to the streets almost two years ago are well known. But if there is to be any hope of ushering in peace any time soon, all sides, all Syrians, must come to the table and have the chance to have their voices heard.
Honest and creative brokerage is urgently needed before the powder keg which is Syria explodes even further, taking with it the region. No sacrifice should be spared if it will help prevent the spilling of more innocent blood.