The Turning Tide of the Syrian War

© REUTERS / Omar SanadikiThe shadows of people on a Syrian national flag are seen while they attend a peace march to mark International Day of Peace in Damascus.
The shadows of people on a Syrian national flag are seen while they attend a peace march to mark International Day of Peace in Damascus. - Sputnik International
According to emerging reports from Syria, pro-government forces have made significant advances in eastern Aleppo, with the Syrian Army, backed by allied militias and air support, liberating the Hanano district and Jabal Badro in the space of around 48 hours.

The speed of the Syrian army's recent gains in Aleppo are impressive, considering the urban battleground.

At the request of the Syrian government, the Russian Air Force began conducting military operations in Syria in September 2015. Shortly before the arrival of Russian warplanes in Syria, the Syrian army suffered a string of defeats, most notably in Idlib province.

Russian jets at the Hmeymim airbase in Syria. file photo - Sputnik International
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With direct military support from Russia, government forces have made considerable territorial gains on several key fronts. They managed to retake the ancient city of Palmyra, and lift the siege on the Kuweires airbase in Aleppo.

Given the deployment of Russian military assets to Syria, it is virtually impossible for any opposing group to retake all of Syria. The provinces of Latakia and Tartus are considered to be the safest areas in Syria, due to the presence of Russian facilities.

Pre-war, these provinces were primarily populated with Alawites, as well as many Christians, in addition to a sizeable Sunni community. As of November 2016, more than 1.5 million internally displaced Syrians, mainly Sunnis from Aleppo, live in Latakia.

Based on Donald Trump's previous comments and narrative, many expect him to cut-off support to opposition forces in Syria, and potentially cooperate with the Syrian government to tackle Islamist groups in Syria.

Furthermore, Russia has placed its advanced S-300 and S-400 SAM systems in Syria, giving them the power to down enemy aircraft. Therefore, it is unlikely that the armed opposition will receive any direct military support (against pro-government forces) from their allies, for a no-fly zone, for example.

Syrian pro-government fighters look at smoke rising on the horizon following government air strikes on the Tal Sharba area, on the outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, after they seized the area from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists on December 27, 2015 - Sputnik International
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Victory in Aleppo is crucial to the long-term success of the Syrian Army's operations, as it will serve as a huge morale boost and will allow thousands of pro-government fighters to be deployed elsewhere.

Based on recent developments, it is clear that Assad's forces possess the advantage. Their advantage could potentially be further accentuated by the involvement of Iraqi militias in Syria.

Earlier this month, Hadi al-Amiri, a leader in the Iraqi PMU, said that President Assad has requested support from his group.

Shiite pilgrims march to Karbala during the Arbaeen ritual in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015 - Sputnik International
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It has been speculated that they will enter Syria, and battle Daesh in the province of Deir Ezzor, near Syria's border with Iraq, once they liberate the city of Mosul. Thousands of Syrian soldiers have been trapped in Deir Ezzor for several years. Breaking the siege would free-up these troops, including 4,000 soldiers from the elite Republican Guard, allowing to fight on other fronts.

In the past year, many countries have changed their position on the Syrian crisis in favor of Assad. For example, in December 2015, the Pakistani Foreign Minister said that his country opposes any attempt to topple Assad.

More recently, the president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, expressed his support for the Syrian government.

"Our priority is to support national armies, for example in Libya to exert control over Libya territory and deal with extremist elements. The same with Syria and Iraq," al-Sissi said.

Syria and Egypt were part of a political union from 1958 until 1961, known as the United Arab Republic. 

Although the war is far from over, it seems highly probable that the Syrian government will emerge victorious, though it remains unclear exactly when they will regain control of the entirety of the country. 

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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