As you might have heard, the opposition in Syria is in serious trouble.
Last summer, Bashar al-Assad’s army was on the ropes, as the SAA fought a multi-front war against a dizzying array of rebel forces including ISIS. Then Quds commander Qassem Soleimani went to Russia. After that, everything changed.
As of September 30 the Russian air force began flying combat missions from Latakia, rolling back rebel gains and paving the way for a Hezbollah ground offensive. Once Moscow had stopped the bleeding for the SAA (both figuratively and literally), Iran called up Shiite militias from Iraq who, alongside Hassan Nasrallah’s forces, pushed north towards Aleppo.
Now, the city is surrounded and the rebels are cut off from their supply line to Turkey. In short: it’s just a matter of time before the opposition is routed.
So much for President Obama’s “Russia will get itself into a quagmire” line.
The only thing that can save the rebels at this juncture is a direct intervention by the groups’ Sunni benefactors including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, and Turkey.
That, or an intervention by the US.
Both the Saudis and the Turkey have hinted at ground invasions over the past two weeks and just this morning, a sokesman said Riyadh’s decision to send in troops was “final.”
But direct interventions are tricky. Russia has never denied it intends to bolster Syrian government forces against the rebels, all of whom Moscow deems “terrorists.” On the other hand, Washington, Riyadh, Doha, and Ankara cling to the notion that while they don’t support Assad, they’re primary goal is to fight ISIS. Well ISIS is in Raqqa, which is nowhere near Aleppo, meaning there’s no way to help the rebels out in their fight against the Russians, Iranians, and Hezbollah under the guise of battling Islamic State.
Against that backdrop we found it interesting that Moscow and Washington are now delivering conflicting accounts of airstrikes in Aleppo on Wednesday. The Pentagon, without specifying what time the strikes allegedly took place, says Russia destroyed the city’s two main hospitals.