Much has been made of Syria’s recent military gains north of Aleppo, which broke an al-Qaeda-led siege on a pair of Shi’ite towns. The advance hurt rebels in the north, and also gave the Syrian military a better position with respect to long-contested Aleppo itself, the former financial and industrial capital of Syria.
The latest round of increased fighting around Aleppo is fueling yet another exodus of civilians from the ara, and speculation that the military could soon have Aleppo “won” outright, though years of fighting have left much of the city a bombed out wreck.
The big loser in all of this might by ISIS, however, with the expectation that if Aleppo falls back under Syrian military control, the offensive’s next target would inevitably be Raqqa, the ISIS capital city. With ISIS facing intense fighting from the Kurdish YPG already, they could be vulnerable to this new push.
Interestingly, the reaction to this potential blow to ISIS has so far been overwhelmingly negative from the West, with US-coalition officials blasting Syria for retaking territory and potentially imperiling “the rebels” as a whole, even if in this case the rebels boil down to ISIS, al-Qaeda, and a few of their allies.