Thursday, December 22, 2016

Syrian government declares the battle of Aleppo in a major victory.

A Red Cross vehicle drives in al-Rashideen, where many rebels and civilians fled too. Reuters. 

The Syrian government has declared victory in the battle of Aleppo in the regime's biggest victory to date. Reuters. The last rebels have evacuated the city along with many civilians under a joint Turkish and Russian peace deal. The regime celebrated the victory and gave credit to both Iran and Russia. Iran sent in hundreds of ground troops and Russia was instrumental with air support. Celebrations broke out in areas of Aleppo held by the regime throughout the war. 34,000 rebels and civilians were evacuated under the peace deal. As part of the deal, Shiite Muslims were evacuated from villages that were under siege by the rebels. With Aleppo in government hands, many speculate that the city of Idlib, where many of the rebels evacuated to, could be the next major battlefield.

Civilians celebrate in Aleppo. Ruptly. 

My Comment:
This is a turning point for the almost six year old Syrian Civil War. The rebels have held parts of Aleppo since the very beginning of the war. Indeed, the war started there after anti-government protests turned violent after the government shot protesters. Ever since then Aleppo has been the beating heart of the Syrian rebel movement. 

That heart has now been cut out. It's hard to understate how important the victory at Aleppo is. Though thousands of rebels have escaped the city, thousands more died in Aleppo and the rebels lost massive amounts of weapons and supplies. The victory in Aleppo has essentially broken the back of the rebels. 

I wonder if the regime made a mistake by letting so many rebels escape from the city. In the long run it may end up with more dead then were saved by ending the battle. Many of those rebels escaped to Idlib and I think there is a good chance that they will continue the fight.  With those rebels still alive the war will not end anytime soon. 

Still, with Aleppo under government control a lot of lives were spared in the short term, and I guess that means something. Russia and Turkey deserve most of the credit for setting up the cease fire. Without their work, I am guessing Aleppo would have been even more of a bloodbath then it actually was. 

America took a back seat in the negotiations. In the end we pretty much abandoned our role as world cop in favor of letting Russia and Turkey handle it. Though I think the outcome of the battle was correct, the fact that our influence in the region is now pretty much non-existent is probably a bad thing. On the other hand our attempts in Syria have been so counterproductive and incompetent that our waning influence is probably a good thing. 

I'm not sure if Idlib is really the next target for Syria. The rebels aren't the only target left in Syria. ISIS and al-Nusra, both violent terror groups, are still powerful and influential. Though ISIS has taken a beating in the north where Turkey has been hitting them hard, they have retaken Palmyra and have even given the Turks a bloody nose as well, burning two of their captured soldiers alive. I am guessing taking back Palmyra would be a good next target for the regime given how embarrassing it was to lose the city for a second time. 

My hope is that the regime and the international community will now focus on attacking ISIS and al-Nusra. In a perfect world that would have happened long ago. But I am thinking that people will finally realize that the rebels are done and that Assad isn't going anywhere. With that being the case the best idea is to back him as his government fights ISIS. 

I also have to point out that the apocalyptic massacre that was supposed to have happened in Aleppo has largely not materialized. Though there were some reports of Iranian militias killing some people, it wasn't the slaughter that people were predicting. Indeed,I got the distinct feeling that there was a lot of propaganda out there trying to make the situation look worse then it actually was. It just goes to show that you can't trust the media... 

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