As we noted four months ago, if Russia and Hezbollah manage to recapture the city, it would effectively restore the Assad government in Syria even if the east of the country is still controlled by Islamic State.In many ways, the city is emblematic of the wider conflict.
"I can't see any reason why we should halt our aerial operations until the terrorists shall be defeated'', Lavrov said, flatly. " President Tayyip Erdogan asked in a speech in Peru."In an environment where children are still being killed, such attempts do not have any function apart from making things easier for the tyrant," he said.
"On the ground, nearly 40,000 people have fled an offensive this week by President Bashar al-Assad's regime north of the city of Aleppo," AFP said on Thursday, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (or in other words, "citing one guy in London"). And trust us, Erdogan knows something about what makes "things easier for a tyrant." In any event, the urgency expressed by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey shouldn't be mistaken for some kind of benevolent regard for the lives are lost each and every day the war drags on.
"Assad's forces also entered two Shiite villages that were under siege by rebels, prompting what state news agency SANA called 'mass celebrations' in the streets of Nubol and Zahraa." For their part, the Turks are of course blaming the Russians for the stalled peace talks. Rather, Washington, Riyadh, and Ankara know that if Aleppo falls, that's it for the "moderate" opposition.
"Backed by Russian firepower and Hezbollah militants, Syrian government troops have cut off rebel supply lines between the northern city of Aleppo and Turkey," Bloomberg writes.
"Taking Aleppo, Syria’s former commercial hub, would give Russia, Iran and Assad more bargaining power at any future settlement talks and more say in how the region will be redefined." Speaking of settlement talks, negotiations in Geneva brokered in part by John Kerry were suspended on Wednesday as a Saudi-backed rebel coalition voiced anger over Russia's airstrikes near Aleppo.
On Thursday, Kerry demanded that Moscow halt the offensive so peace talks could resume.Although America's top diplomat swears his phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov was "robust" Lavrov said on Wednesday The Kremlin doesn't see why the campaign against "the terrorists" should stop.As noted above, if the SAA can retake Aleppo, Assad will have control of most of the country's major urban centers, effectively restoring his grip on power.So critical is the city, that when the SAA, Hezbollah, and a variety of Shiite militas were gearing up for the push north, Quds commander Qassem Soleimani himself showed up to rally the troops (he was later injured on the frontlines).Fast forward four months and it appears that after a protracted fight, Russia and Hezbollah are indeed poised to recapture the city where militants are now surrounded.Critically, Russia and Iran have now cut off supply lines from Turkey.