The Fall of Aleppo – and the Aftermath

Fall of Aleppo - Map depicting location of Aleppo, Syria (red circle). (Map from CIA 2007).

The recent fall of Aleppo to Syrian government forces signals a new turn of events for the long, confusing, and complex conflict. Read some recent news articles, analysis, maps, and commentary about the fall of Aleppo and the future of the Syrian conflict.

“Aleppo’s fall is Obama’s failure”, by Leon Wieseltier, The Washington Post, December 15, 2016. Wieseltier is a senior fellow in culture and policy at the Brookings Institution. By the title you can discern that the article is less than favorable to Obama and his administration – here is one snippet: “After five years and more in which the United States’ inaction in Syria has transformed our country into nothing other than a bystander to the greatest atrocity of our time . . .”

“Tragic, Unsurprising Fall . . .” Doyle McManus writes that the fall of Aleppo should not be a surprise and neither should the inhuman treatment of its civilian population by the Syrian Assad regime. In what was once Syria’s largest city are thousands of civilians caught up in the cross fire, daily bombings by Syrian and Russian aircraft, and abuses by both government troops and rebel forces. President Obama’s reluctance to act (troops on ground, airpower, refugee sanctuary camps, ‘no fly zone’, more robust SOF presence, etc.) has ensured a victory for the Assad regime, Russians, Iranians Revolutionary Guard, and Lebanese Hezbollah. Syria will certainly rank high among President Obama’s foreign policy failures. See “The tragic, unsurprising fall of Aleppo”Los Angeles Times, December 18, 2016.

Evacuation of Aleppo. It appears that the on-again, off-again evacuation of the besieged city may be almost complete. Those rebel forces and parts of the civilian population that wanted to depart may have left – some reports saying the evacuation to be completed by Thursday evening, Dec 22nd. Most of the rebel fighters and the civilian population fled to the west of Aleppo to rebel held territory. See “Syria conflict: Aleppo evacuation operation nears end”BBC News, December 22, 2016.

Comparing Mosul with Aleppo. Read some commentary that examines the humanitarian issues associated with the Syrian government troops attack and capture of Aleppo, Syria with the Iraqi government troops attack and impending capture of Mosul, Iraq. One is conducting an operation trying not to kill civilians in the process and the other is not too worried about civilian deaths. Read “The real battle in Aleppo and Mosul”The Christian Science Monitor, December 7, 2016.

Failure to Implement ‘No-Fly Zone’. When the Syria revolt first began Assad used his air force to great advantage and it probably was instrumental in saving his regime. The U.S. could have, according to some observers, instituted a ‘no-fly zone’ by shooting down Syria planes and helicopters and ‘cratering’ its runways. This would have grounded the Syrian air support capability, established U.S. air superiority, and have been implemented before the Russians injected their own air force. Read “Aleppo and American decline”, by Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, December 22, 2016.

Our Stake in Syria. Senator John McCain writes on the importance of Syria to the United States in “We have a stake in Syria yet we have done nothing”The Washington Post, December 23, 2016.

Time Sequenced Maps. Syria’s most populated city – before the war – has been split between government forces and rebel forces. View a series of maps that show control of Aleppo by the two warring factions over the past year. “The Fall of Aleppo”Reuters Graphics, December 2016.

Shifting Story Line. While the world was fixated on the tragedy at Aleppo there was news in other parts of Syria. ISIS regained control of Palmyra, Syria – a city that had been recaptured by the Syrian government troops earlier in the year. We will now see more news coverage on that rebel-held area west of Aleppo – the neighboring province of Idlib. First of all, the humanitarian needs of the Aleppo population that fled to Idlib will be front-page; and second, we will no doubt see a government offensive by the Syrians mounted in 2017 against this rebel enclave.

Additional Internet Resources on Aleppo:

Aleppo, Wikipedia

Battle of Aleppo (2012-16), Wikipedia

Profile: Aleppo, Syria’s second cityBBC News, November 28, 2016.

Ancient City of Aleppo, UNESCO

Map at top of page depicts location of Aleppo, Syria in red circle. (Map from CIA 2007).


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