New Offensive Likely to Center on Aleppo's Outskirts
With the multi-year fight over the major city of Aleppo over, there are calls from Russian officials for a ceasefire. In the meantime, however, fighting has moved into the area immediately surrounding Aleppo, with additional airstrikes reported by Syrian and Russian planes over idlib Province.
There is a lot of speculation that Idlib, the de facto capital of al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, and by the extension the capital of much of the non-ISIS rebellion, could be the next target. Yet with so many rebels evacuated from metro Damascus and Aleppo into Idlib, it’s also an increasingly tall order, and one which could be a huge, complicated battle.
In the near-term, the fighting is likely to focus on rural areas in Aleppo Province, around the city, as the military aims to get enough control over the area around Aleppo that the city itself is no longer in range of artillery strikes, if nothing else. Some such strikes were already reported Friday, with a handful of civilians killed.
Russia, Iran, and Turkey have all agreed to push a ceasefire right now, and the airstrikes are likely to continue until some sort of deal is reached. that said, previous ceasefires have excluded both ISIS and Nusra forces, which in the current context of Syria’s war would be no real ceasefire at all. Exactly how they square this remains to be seen, and the even bigger question is if the US and other nations not involved in the Moscow effort will go along with it.
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