In the past few weeks, the Syrian regime and its kaleidoscope of allies have been tightening the noose around the remaining rebel held areas of Aleppo. The last rebel supply lines into the city have been cut and Russia has announced the opening of “humanitarian corridors” to allow civilians and rebels to leave the city. However, the Syrian regime has previously used such tactics as a way to draw its opponents out into the open, bombing and arresting rebels and civilians alike as they flee. So far, there have been no credible reports of large amounts of people leaving the city. In fact, there have been few reports even of small amounts of people leaving the city. The only other option for civilians and rebels in the city is to die from starvation and shelling, and it appears to be the option most are taking.
While the rebels have broken previous sieges of Aleppo, this seems to be the end for rebel-held Aleppo. The siege is complete and rebel counter attacks have been forced back. Russian air power is being deployed to devastating effect. The people of Aleppo are resisting however they can, but the eventual defeat of the rebels in Aleppo remains fairly certain. The recapture of Syria’s largest city would obviously represent a huge boost to the Assad regime. But this would not represent the end of Syria’s Civil War, nor even the beginning of the end. The Assad regime still needs to deal with tens of thousands of rebel fighters, the ever looming danger of the ‘Islamic State’, and an emerging Kurdish state continually growing in strength. As reported before on this blog, the Assad regime is incapable of occupying the entire country, and neither are the rebels. Even with assistance from the Iranians and Russians, the Assad regime will be battling a low-level (at the least) insurgency for years to come with parts of the country (namely the Kurdish portion) forever sundered from the government’s grasp. Even if the rebels were to be militarily defeated, Syria would remain unstable and violent for so long as Assad remains in power. There is no force left in Syria with the strength to rule the country unilaterally. The opposing groups in Syria are so drained from years of war that a military solution to the Civil War is no longer an option, but so long as Assad remains in power neither is a political and diplomatic solution.