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Kevork Almassian is an expert in International Relations at the German Center for Eurasian Studies. He has a BS in International Relations and Diplomacy, and a MA in Middle Eastern Politics.
OPINION

Kevork Almassian: Aleppo resisted and triumphed

The strategy of the militants and their backers was to use the civilians as human shields; to provoke the Syrian Army and force it into retaliation strikes in order to cause substantial losses among the innocent.

Published: December 7, 2016, 1:22 pm

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    In June 2012, when the Turkish backed militants stormed Eastern parts of Aleppo, there was a widespread belief that the Syrian Arab Army would be capable of restoring peace in a short time. However, the consistent Turkish-Saudi-Qatari support to their proxies in Aleppo complicated the military equation, especially after the stationing of these militants within the civilian neighbourhoods.

    By doing so, the militants were betting on creating an international public opinion in order to put pressure on Syria’s allies, particularly Russia, and force it to refrain from using the right to veto in the UN Security Council regarding international support for the militants.

    So, the biggest bet was to embarrass Russia in hope to neutralize it, and then to legalize a military intervention under the pretext of “Responsibility to Protect” or “Humanitarian Intervention”.

    But the winds did not blow as the vessels of NATO wished.

    Russia consistently supported the legitimate government of Syria politically, with military aid, and since 30th September 2015 also through direct military involvement.

    Iran, Hezbollah and China also stood by Syria, providing Damascus with all means necessary to survive and liberate the occupied territories by Al-Nusra Front, ISIS, Ahrar Al-Sham, Islam’s Army, Islamic Turkistan Party and others.

    Today, the steadfastness of the Aleppi people and the resistance of the Syrian Army and their allies yielded the liberation of the bulk of the eastern neighbourhoods of Aleppo and freeing of tens of thousands of civilians via humanitarian corridors.

    Even the Western Mainstream Media couldn’t hide the celebrations and the joy of the civilians in Aleppo, who expressed their gratitude to the Syrian Army and Russia.

    This victory opens the door towards strategic changes in the war on and in Syria. Several experts now believe the liberation of the second biggest city “is the single most important game-changing event in the Syria war”.

    I will now summarize the expected repercussions of expelling Al-Qaeda and other Islamist forces from the city of Aleppo:

    • Aleppo might be a geographical starting point towards the liberation of Northern suburbs of the city, all the way to the borders with Turkey in order to zip it. But this option is at risk of colliding with the occupying Turkish troops stationed only 30 kilometres north of Aleppo. Therefore, Russian diplomatic pressure is needed to avoid direct confrontation between Ankara and Damascus.
    • Aleppo will be the military departure point towards the liberalization of Idlib (capital of Al-Nusra) along the Syrian forces in North Latakia.
    • The liberation of Aleppo ends Erdogan dreams to occupy the city or make it directly dependent on Turkey. It also eliminates the Qatari project to extend a gas pipeline through Syria to Turkey.
    • Finally, the recovery of the country’s largest industrial city means the re-stabilization of the Syrian economy and currency, and contribute effectively in reconstructing the destroyed parts of the land. And therein lays another challenge, which is to block the “international banks” and “donors” from subjecting Syria to their political conditions in exchange to funding.

    Based on the above, it is not surprising that the battle’s scale and importance of Aleppo led combatants to name it the “mother of battles” or “Syria’s Stalingrad”.

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