Thursday, August 11, 2016

I'm Not Sure What the Point of an Assad Victory Here Really Is

The long battle for Aleppo is continuing. Although Assad and his allies believed they had the rebels in Aleppo cornered and cut off, the rebels broke the ring of pro-government forces with a major victory. Let's see if the rebels can hold their ground.

The Assad victory in Aleppo is postponed:

Despair, it seems, forced a show of unity by the disparate rebel groups, with striking effect. On the weekend of August 6th-7th, mainstream and jihadist groups used suicide bombers, artillery guns and tanks to break through regime positions. The rebels seized a military complex, captured weapons and ammunition, and opened a narrow corridor into areas that have been under government blockade for weeks.

The lightning advance took Syrian government forces by surprise; they have responded with fury. The regime has stepped up its bombardment of rebel-held parts of the city as it seeks to reverse the opposition’s successes. Activists in eastern Aleppo say that they have counted more than 100 air strikes over the past two days.

The corridor isn't secure 24/7. But the weapons and ammo captured are pretty real. That has to hurt Assad.

I'm not sure how the battle will go. But I'm not sure Assad can afford even a victory.

I'll repeat what I said four years ago when I judged the city a bridge too far for Assad's forces:

I think Assad might be biting off more than he can chew. Sure, it is a big and important city with regime defenders to protect, but it is close to Turkey and adds more people to the defense perimeter of Core Syria than I think Assad has the forces to pacify.

Extending the Syrian perimeter north to secure just the approaches to the city strains Assad's battered forces.

Defending the perimeter of the conquered--and wrecked--city will strain Assad's forces.

And trying to pacify and/or protect the city residents will strain Assad's forces.

I just don't know where Assad finds the troops to secure this territory and all those people.

Assad may yet win this battle--my 4-year-old prediction could yet fail--but then Assad has to defend the win.

Haven't Assad's supporters endured enough casualties so far? Will they keep dying to defend the city?

If they take it, of course.