Monday October 31, 2016
To understand the situation in Aleppo is to understand the key to the conflict in Syria at this juncture: Will Washington and its allies or the Syrian Army and Russia liberate Raqqa, the capital of the so-called Islamic State.
It does not take a military genius to discern Washington’s strategy in prolonging the military operation being conducted by the Syrian Army, supported by Russia, to liberate eastern Aleppo – which remains occupied by Nusra Front and the “moderates” fighting alongside the Salafi-jihadist group.
Keeping the Syrian and Russian military forces bogged down in eastern Aleppo is key to allowing the US-led coalition to complete the operation, currently underway, to take the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS, before continuing an east-west advance across the Syrian border to take Raqqa. Raqqa will then be established as the de facto capital of so-called moderate Syrian forces, which will re-group there, presumably under cover of a US-imposed no-fly zone, to become a counterweight to the authority of the Assad government in Damascus. Such a development would also establish a permanent US military presence in a country that has long been key to Washington’s objective of dominating the region.