Monday, November 28, 2016

Syrian regime recaptures 1/3rd of Aleppo, splits rebel territory in two.

Syrian soldiers celebrate the victory. BBC/SANA

The Syrian regime has recaptured one third of the territory in Aleppo, in a major victory against the rebels. BBC. Regime troops have captured the Sakhour district from the rebels. The capture of Sakhour has split the rebel holdings in Aleppo in two and makes their position much worse then it was. The advance comes after heavy bombing and Syrian troops are clearing mines and booby traps before they continue the offensive. Thousands of civilians have fled the fighting, many of them to the Kurdish controlled enclave in the city. 

My Comment:
This is a massive victory for the Syrian regime. Aleppo has always been Syria's 2nd city and to have it be a major base of the rebel movement has always been a thorn in the side of the Syrian regime. The city has been a battlefield since the start of the war and to finally begin to recapture it is a huge moment for the regime. 

And it looks like the regime is going to win in Aleppo. If you look at the map posted above it seems pretty clear that the rebels have been split in half. I am not sure how accurate that map is, or how strong the regime's control is of the area, but if it is true then the rebels are in some serious trouble. 

Aleppo was already cut off and the rebels were having some serious supply problems already. They are running out of food and ammo and will not be able to resupply without outside intervention. The massive defeat in the Sakhour district will only compound these problems. Not only have their forces been split in two, they also presumably lost quite a bit of supplies and weapons in the chaos of the offensive. Not to mention the loss of troops. 

It also seems likely that morale among the rebels is very low and that they finally broke. I think they realized that nobody is going to rescue them and that their situation is untenable. Still, you would think that they would fight right? There isn't anywhere to flee since the regime and Kurds control all the territory around Aleppo and they are under siege. Their only hope is to hold on long enough so rebels outside the Aleppo pocket can battle to relive them. That probably isn't going to happen but any hope is better than no hope at all... 

I wonder what will happen after Aleppo finally falls. The way things are going I can see that happening in the next month or so. I worry that the Syrian regime will show no quarter to any rebels left in the city. After all, the brutality of the Syrian regime is a major reason the rebellion happened in the first place. I hardly expect Assad to offer up an olive branch. Slaughter is generally the default end to a siege throughout history and even in the 21st century I think that is still true

I think that the international community could make this situation better. If there was pressure on the rebels to surrender perhaps a deal could be made to spare their lives? That seems to be the only way that the rebels could survive in anyways. Either they will die in combat, starve or they will end up dying in the regime's prisons. 

No matter what though, it looks like the rebel's power base in Aleppo is broken. Though Aleppo has not yet fallen, it seems inevitable. When that happens, I think that the rebels are essentially done. There are some exceptions, the Turkish rebels and the rebels working with the Kurds will still survive, but the main rebel groups will have their power broken and destroyed. 

With the main rebel groups routed that means that the Syrian regime and their Russian and Iranian allies can move their focus to the Jihadist groups, such as ISIS and al-Nusra. Al-Nusra Front, or whatever they are calling themselves these days, controls vast swaths of Western Syria. ISIS still controls much of the East and are still besieging the city of Dier Ez Zoir. 

My question is which group the regime will focus on first. Both groups are dangerous but I think ISIS is the greater threat to the world. Al-Nusra might be the more immediate threat to the regime so they might go first. If not though, expect a drive towards either the de-facto capital of ISIS, Raqqa, or a relief column to Dier Ez Zor. 

No matter what happens it seems as though there is some light at the end of the tunnel for the Syrian civil war. With the rebels losing in Aleppo it seems as though the regime will survive. Though Assad is a brutal and evil dictator, letting the war continue would be worse. I sincerely hope that the war will finally end... 

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