17:29 GMT19 February 2020
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    The Assad regime made major advances against rebels just south of Aleppo with government forces planning to encircle opposition fighters in order to reimpose the controversial siege on what was once the crown jewel city of Syria.

    The Syrian Arab Army plowed through territory south of Aleppo City on Sunday as the Assad regime once again looks to encircle rebel controlled territory in a bid to reestablish the siege.

    "The Syrian army, supported by allied forces, has total control of the armaments academy and expanded the territory it controls in the military academies zone," said the SANA state news agency.

    Additionally, military sources told AFP that the government has already recaptured the air force academy and that rebel fighters "are now besieged in the artillery academy."

    Video footage shows airstrikes devastating an artillery college in southern Aleppo confirming the Assad government’s advances in the rebel controlled area making the reimplementation of the siege more likely.

    The siege is unpopular among Western analysts who argue that it causes disproportionate suffering among Aleppo’s civilian population who are unable to access necessary food and medical care in the Assad regime’s effort to starve the opposition forces of supplies. Russia looked to remedy this situation through the implementation of humanitarian corridors for civilians to evacuate, but the idea was never fully tested as the siege was fractured only days later. Others worry that the civilians are effectively held hostage by the rebels and are caught in between the two forces.

    The so-called moderate rebels claimed victory weeks ago in breaking the siege imposed by the Syrian Arab Army, but analysis of the battlefield situation shows that the effort was led by Jabhat fateh al-sham, the terror group formerly known as al-Nusra Front that was Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate prior to the rebrand.

    The United States has looked to support opposition to the Assad regime with the official position of the Obama administration being that "Assad must go" before peace can be found in Syria, but in providing military aid and support to these rebels opponents contend that the White House has gave aid and comfort to the same terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center on 9/11. That is because the recently rebranded al-Nusra Front has merged with many of the "moderate" opposition rebels under the umbrella group, The Army of Conquest. 

    Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov laid out this reality in negotiations with the United States on cooperation to bringing peace to the region. "Many of the groups considered acceptable by the US have actually affiliated with the Nusra Front, while the Nusra Front is using them to avoid being attacked," said Ryabkov explaining why the US frequently blames Russian Aerospace Forces for bombing US-backed rebel positions.

    Analysts wonder whether the ouster of Assad will, rather than bringing peace to Syria instead open Pandora’s Box creating a terror state controlled by either Daesh (ISIS) or al-Nusra (al-Qaeda). Russian President Vladimir Putin raised this question in an interview on Friday with Bloomberg where he critiqued the US policy of regime change in Iraq and Libya likening it to what could happen if Assad is forced out.

    "The same goes for Syria," said Putin. "Every time we hear that 'Assad must go' (because someone from outside believes so), I can’t help but wonder: What is that going to lead to?"


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    Aleppo siege, Syrian crisis, Army of Conquest, Syrian Armed Forces, Syrian Arab Army, Russian Aerospace Forces, Al-Nusra Front, Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, Syria, United States, Russia, Aleppo
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