Today is Day 1,216 of the Syrian conflict.
Yesterday, the UN Security voted unanimously to authorize aid deliveries into Syria without approval from Syrian authorities. The UN generally seeks permission from the government of a country before entering in such situations. The rationale for changing that here is that the Syrian government has been insisting that all aid go through Damascus (it says it needs to make sure the UN isn't smuggling in weapons instead). This slowed things down. Also, it meant aid had a funny way of only reaching government-controlled areas. Also, some countries aren't keen about having humanitarian relief intended for Syria's citizens routed through a government that (allegedly) gassed them.
As Eddie Izzard once said: "After a couple of years, we won't stand for that, will we?" So the resolution went through, despite some early Russian resistance on the exact language, resolved by making sure cross-border movement was restricted to four official crossings and the resolution no longer threatened sanctions.
Newspapers are full of quotes from UN ambassadors praising the resolution. The Wall Street Journal Monday afternoon quoted Jan Egeland, a former UN aid chief, as calling it a potential game-changer." That would be nice, if so: Remember the time no relief was delivered to Aleppo for 10 months? Granted, there was a problem negotiating a ceasefire for the delivery in that case. It's a good reminder, however, that aid delivery in Syria is hard enough without the UN offering to let the Syrian government tie one of its hands behind its back with a silk ribbon. Let's see what the UN can do now with both hands — although overcoming the muscular atrophy may take a while.
In other news, the Syrian conflict has gone on so long and the situation in the wider region is now so messed up that even Assad's allies are being stretched to the breaking point. Hezbollah is having to fall back on fresh-faced ingénus brought over from Lebanon: The Iraqi Shiites who had come over to help Hezbollah in Syria are now heading back to Iraq, now that the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State they were previously fighting in Syria are threatening their own homeland. The Wall Street Journal's got a good read on this.
On a similar theme, Reuters reported yesterday that the Islamic State's offensive in Syria is bringing Turkish Kurds over the border to help their Syrian brethren reseist the threat.
Vice has a colorful look at a "mysterious" French mercenary hanging out in Syria — not to be missed.
Other things on the calendar this week: Very shortly, some 150 tons of Syria's chemical weapons will arrive at a destruction site in Cheshire, to be handled by a French firm. On Thursday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will hold his (re)-inauguaration.
The conflict continues.