Syria’s gains against rebels in the Aleppo Province has ended a siege on some 60,000 Shi’ite civilians, and also is a blow for the rebellion’s efforts to keep contesting the city of Aleppo. Yet the biggest loser, by some analysts’ reckoning, may be Turkey.
In taking back the area around the Shi’ite towns, the Syrian military also regained part of the supply line between the Azaz border crossing and Aleppo, meaning Turkey can’t readily use that border crossing to throw weapons at the rebel factions in Aleppo.
This shifts Turkey’s aid focus in northwestern Syria will likely have to start flowing through Idlib Province, held by al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra. Turkey has long denied backing al-Qaeda in Syria, but an awful lot of its aid has historically been going through their territory.
The big beneficiaries of this will, in addition to the Shi’ite civilians no longer under siege, will be the Kurdish YPG, which was already planning to push across the Euphrates into ISIS territory along the border. Without the crossing at Azaz, Turkey is in less of a position to arm Islamist factions to attack the Kurds, though they’ve also threatened direct intervention, which may become more likely in the absence of the crossing.