Russia and the Syrian regime appear poised to fully retake the city of Aleppo in a matter of weeks, which likely prove a major turning point in the Syrian civil war.
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria, and served as the country’s major commercial hub prior to the beginning of the civil war. Syrian rebels captured the city in 2012, marking a major strategic turning point in the conflict. Since the Russian intervention in Syria in 2015, Aleppo has been the target of a relentless bombing campaign.
Russian airpower has pounded civilians, hospitals, and critical infrastructure in a bid to soften the area for the inevitable advance. The Syrian Arab Army began its ground assault Nov. 15, and have now entered the historic old city of Aleppo. The Syrian Army now has control of nearly 50 percent of the city, Pentagon Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis confirmed to reporters Wednesday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights believes nearly 800 civilians have been killed in the last three weeks, while another 80,000 have fled. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov issued a stark warning to the remaining civilians in the city Tuesday saying, “If somebody refuses to leave [Aleppo] on good terms, he will be eliminated as I understand. There is no other way out.”
Experts warn that even if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is able to win a battlefield victory over Aleppo and broader Syria, he will likely face an ongoing insurgency.
Former U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker drew parallels with the 1980s Lebanese civil war to The New York Times saying, “It was long, hot and mean, and it took 15 years to end and it only ended because the Syrians moved into Lebanon and stopped it.” Crocker continued, “With Syria, we’re just five years into it, and there’s no Syria to come in and end it.”
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