Bashar Assad’s forces have almost completely encircled the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo, leaving only a four-mile corridor open to the outside world and setting the stage for a siege that could spell the end of moderate resistance in Syria. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Tuesday, rebels and regime forces clashed in Aziza, on the southern outskirts of Aleppo, while government aircraft stepped up strikes on the old city, activists said.Simultaneously, extremists with the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, are encroaching on rebel-held territory north of the city, uprooting the FSA from the countryside.“We’re about to lose Aleppo and no one cares,” said Hussam Almarie, an FSA spokesman. “We won’t be able to recover the revolution if this happens. And we’ll lose the moderates in Syria.”
Attempts to resupply the rebels would be complicated by the fact that the Free Syrian Army is defending Aleppo alongside fighters from the more radical Islamic Front, whom the United States is reluctant to arm. It may not matter, though; odds are that any opportunity to help has passed. Nearly trapped, they are on the verge of annihilation.If a siege ensues and ends in a government victory, expect the aftermath to be bloody, as the regime is determined to crush the rebels with the utmost brutality.Nor will the bloodletting stop there. Assad’s forces and ISIS have tacitly cooperated against the rebels in the region, but experts expect ISIS to push hard for Aleppo once the moderates are destroyed. This could be the beginning of the battle royale of the Syrian civil war.