Major gains in recent days by the Syrian military in Aleppo have seen them seizing roughly a third of the Nusra Front-held eastern portion of the major city. Officials are now saying that the goal is to take the rest of the city by the January 20 inauguration of US President-elect Donald Trump.
The exact reasoning behind this goal is unclear, but officials did say that the Russian government had pushed them on the matter, hoping to get the major fighting in the city wrapped up before Trump comes to power. Trump is said to be seeking a rapprochement with Russia, and has planned to scrap support for the Syrian rebels.
That could suggest that Russia wants the Aleppo flashpoint removed from the table before Trump is in place so as to avoid any obstacles to this major shift in US policy. France and some other nations are pushing for the US to “do something” to prevent Nusra’s loss in Aleppo.
Since Nusra is a thinly rebranded al-Qaeda affiliate, it’s unlikely Trump is going to be eager to go to bat for them, particularly at the expense of a potential normalization deal with Russia. At the same time, the US hawks pushing for intervention against the Syrian government will lose a big talking point if the siege of Aleppo has already been resolved.