After a strikingly bad news cycle of foreign policy failures for President Obama, including what many experts term as a snub by China in not providing a staircase for his plane after he arrived, as well as being called a ‘son of a bitch’ by the controversial Filipino president Duterte, Obama suffered another punch at the G20 conference when he and Putin failed to negotiate a cease-fire in the Syrian civil war. Both leaders agreed to continue to negotiate, however.
A dictator by the name of Bashar Al-Assad has been in control of Syria since 2000, and is fighting back against a number of militant and revolting groups. ISIS (or the Islamic State) has also expanded into Syria, and controls large swaths of territory in Northern Syria, including the strategically important city of Raqqa.
Russia has an agreement with Al-Assad, and is thus bombing both the Free Syrian Army (the name of the coalition of non-ISIS rebel groups) as well as ISIS under the guise that it is only trying to destroy ISIS. Russia’s drone strikes killed more civilians than ISIS or Assad in January, according to some Syrian rights groups.
Meanwhile, the US and Britain have been helping many of the non-ISIS rebel groups by providing arms and funding, and the US is continuing its bombing and targeted strikes against ISIS. So the conflict between the US and Russia in the region comes from Russia bombing the very rebel troops that the US hopes to help.
The city of Aleppo, which had over two millions citizens in 2015, is currently under siege by government forces as both armies fight for control of the city.
It’s not too unlikely that a cease-fire could be reached, given that one was passed in December of 2015, but the cease-fire will almost certainly not last long. It remains to be seen what will have to give in order for compromise to be reached between the US and Russia.