The battle for Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, now mostly reduced to ruins, has been raging for years. Assad’s regime, backed by Moscow, has recently made significant steps towards recapturing Aleppo, a serious blow for the rebel forces.
According to Syrian army sources and the state TV, the regime forces are close to establishing complete control over Aleppo. The rebels have lost more than 90% of the territory they held in Eastern Aleppo, an enclave surrounded by government controlled parts of the city.
Lieutenant General Zaid al-Saleh, head of Aleppo security committee, said that
The battle in eastern Aleppo should end quickly. They (rebels) don’t have much time. They either have to surrender or die.
As the rebels continue to lose territory and morale, Syrian government military sources believe that the victory in Aleppo is only a matter of days.
We are in the final moments before declaring the victory of the Arab Syrian army in the battle of East Aleppo. We could announce this any moment.
The UN, as well as several Western countries have expressed concerns over the humanitarian situation Aleppo, accusing Russia and the Assad regime of committing atrocities against the civilian population.
While the US continues to back the Syrian rebels, recent advances by the government forces, backed by their Russian ally, have forced Washington to start a fresh round of negotiations with the Russians.
Russia and the US are currently negotiating in Geneva to find a solution for the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, but according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov,
The issue of withdrawing militants is the subject of separate agreements. This agreement has not yet been reached, largely because the United States insists on unacceptable terms.
The US has kept insisting that the Assad regime must go, stating that a peaceful solution to the conflict cannot be reached while Assad remains in power. It is clear, however, that US foreign policy in Syria has suffered a near-total defeat, with Donald Trump openly accusing the Obama administration of enabling both Russia and Iran to strengthen their position in the Middle East.
The fall of Aleppo could signal a final blow to the US in Syria. Despite the imminent defeat in Aleppo, the Syrian rebels have vowed to continue their struggle against Assad.
If Assad and his allies think that a military advance in certain quarters of Aleppo will signify that we will make concessions, then [I say] that will not happen.
Said Riyad Hijab, general co-ordinator of High Negotiations Committee.
While both Russia and Assad maintain that there is no moderate opposition in the country, the US and the EU have consistently used the term ‘moderate rebels’ in their rhetoric. Disagreements between Russia and the West over the conflict in Syria have led to a significant deterioration in their diplomatic relations.
With just another month until Trump is sworn in as new US President, the rebels in Syria are running out of time. Trump has already hinted that he is willing to cooperate with Russia in Syria.
The war in Syria will undoubtedly continue even after the fall of Aleppo, yet the victory in Syria’s once largest city will be a major boost for Assad and his allies.
Source: BBC, Reuters