BERLIN — It is nearly 20 years since the West just looked on when Serbian troops massacred 8,000 inhabitants of the city of Srebrenica. It was the shock of this slaughter that finally pushed Western leaders to take action.

But today, a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Aleppo that actually surpasses that of Srebrenica: some 300,000 civilians are surrounded by the military forces of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, as well as Iranian and Russian troops. Starving people to death and targeting civilian organizations such as hospitals is central to the genocidal war machinery of the Moscow-Damascus-Tehran axis. And the United Nations and the West just leave them to it.

Russia and the Assad regime, without having consulted the international community, recently announced the establishment of routes into the city to guarantee its being provided with supplies. But they also demanded that the remaining civilian population of Aleppo should use these same routes to leave the city.

So the people face having to choose between two evils, either flee their homes or be mercilessly bombed and starved out. In truth, this is nothing more than forced displacement and therefore another war crime that is being committed by a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

A 2007 Reinterment and Memorial Ceremony in Srebrenica — Photo: Adam Jones

Sniper turns

The Western powers (in conjunction with Europe) would have become complicit in lethal warfare if this is part of the recently signed agreement between the U.S. and Russia to synchronize their actions in Syria and to legitimize such barbarian methods.

But it is more likely that Washington chose to be blinded by the Kremlin's hypocritical assurances that they would be a restraining force and curb Assad, who, without Moscow's and Teheran's military power, would have been finished a long time ago.

But so far, the supposed humanitarian routes apparently only exist in Russian propaganda. Humanitarian aid workers on the ground emphasize that people trying to flee along these corridors are often shot by regime snipers.

The Kremlin tries to portray itself as a humanitarian mediator while helping Assad to bomb his way toward the creation of a fait accompli. The West can no longer afford to condone these actions.

The West will have to attack regime strongholds and thereby force Assad and his allies to enter into negotiations for a truce and the creation of true civilian protection zones. Otherwise, the West will be left with nothing better than the remorse it showed after Srebrenica.