Middle East&North Africa The battle for Aleppo. A soldier of Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo.

Published on December 26th, 2016 | by Lidija Bojčić


After the battle for Aleppo

East Aleppo fell last week. Syrian rebels who held this part of the city lost to government forces. It was a difficult stage of the Syrian conflict, marked by the mass bombing of Russian and Syrian government forces and cynical and ineffective support the US and its allies against the opposition.

End of the fight for Aleppo has brought relief to thousands of civilians in all city parts, as well. Residents of eastern Aleppo through the UN mainly derived from the city and get humanitarian aid.

However, the outcome of the battle for Aleppo represents a failure of international diplomacy and compromise and represents the triumph of force. Insisting the Syrian government on its military victory led to unprecedented brutality in recent months. In the future, because of such uncompromising and ruthless approach to the Syrian government that will be great challenges in the Syrian future.

The fall of Aleppo does not mean the end of the Syrian civil war. Opposition groups have suffered significant strategic loss, but they are not destroyed and they will continue to fight. Most likely, they will regroup around Idlib, a city southwest of Aleppo and last major area of ​​resistance to the Syrian government forces. From there, the opposition fighters to launch attacks on areas under government control.

The Kurdish militia, YPG had large military units during the battle for Aleppo, but cooperated with the government forces in the north of the city where it made significant gains. The Syrian government has willingly accepted the Kurdish help, but it does not accept the idea of ​​a special status of the Kurds in Syria. The Syrian government does not want special status or autonomy for the Kurds as well as in Iraq, and certainly it does not want their full independence. Sooner or later, the Syrian government and the Kurds will clash.

The US is the only true ally of the Kurds in Syria. The US has hailed the success of YPG in Aleppo and other areas against IS, but failed to do so and US ally Turkey. Turkey’s Erdogan wants its role in the Syrian conflict. The fall of Aleppo disrupted Erdogan’s strategy, but he looks for another place for their role. Turkey is the main financier of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Turkmen opposition groups. With these groups, Turkey progresses in Syria as part of  the Euphrates Shield Operation and it can take over all the territory held by IS. In fact, Turkey’s plan to move forward as much as possible to the south inside Syrian territory in order to prevent what progress Kurds and their territorial cohesion.

The Islamic state occupies a large desert areas in Syria, which are sparsely populated. It was not one of the main players in the case of the conquest of Aleppo, has already taken advantage of the government’s preoccupation with the Syrian regime in Aleppo and it returned the territory that was lost earlier this year during the liberation of Palmyra. The recapture of Palmyra has shown the weakness of the Syrian army facing a takeover of Raqqa and at the same time it has to keep control of the rest of Syria.

Syria is an important development in the security situation in Iraq. The Islamic state stretching in Syria and Iraq and Raqqa is the mainstay. If the Iraqi government fails to solve their problems with the Sunni population, the violence in the country will continue. With the imminent fall of Mosul, Raqqa could become an integral part of the same struggle of Syria and Iraq.

In Syria, the greatest challenge will be national reconciliation. It is very complicated due to the large number of militant groups on both sides, the lack of opposition leaders and traumatic events for all who were involved in fighting in the past few years in Syria. The statement by the fact that many civilians from the eastern Aleppo long refused to leave the city because they were afraid of the government regime and its allies. According to recently seen in Aleppo, those fears were justified. There are many reports of killings of civilians by pro-regime militia. This reflects government policy or the lack of state control over its armed forces.

In Syria, on the one hand is triumphant, vengeful and exhausted the government of Bashar al-Assad, which controls a majority of the Syrian population, and on the other hand, are fragmented and fanatical rebels. Neither side does not understand the concept of national reconciliation and compromise.

The Syrian government has a huge debt to Russia, Iran and the Shia militias in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. Russia and Iran have their limits. Iran has suffered considerable human and material losses in the war and began to limit their direct involvement in the conflict. Following the capture of Aleppo, Russia and Iran will certainly support the action against Idlib, but they will be looking for a political solution of the conflict.

At this point it is unclear how the new US administration set to the Syrian conflict. US President-elect Donald Trump announced that he would focus on the fight against the Islamic state and will no longer support the Syrian rebels. But the US Congress has already voted for the possibility that Syrian opposition groups to devastating weapons.

Although the fall of Aleppo does not  ending the Syrian civil war, it can lead to a reduction of violence in Syria. This may allow the rebuilding of the country. Finding funding for the restoration of Syrian cities and infrastructure will depend on the commitment of the international community, the Syrian government and its allies.

The world economic organizations the IMF and the World Bank are dominated by the US and Western countries. They may withhold their support for the strengthening of Bashar al-Assad and insist on sanctions against Syria. But it is likely that the question of refugees prevail. Europe needs peace in Syria so that the refugees can return home. Such a solution desired by Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey to bear the burden of refugees.

Russia and the Syrian government responsible for the recent killing of civilians in Aleppo, and the entire international community because of their indifference and lack of concern for human rights in Syria. This group includes the UN, which should take more seriously its role to the Syrian people out of the horrible war events.

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