Journalist Evgeny Krutikov described what has been happening in and around Aleppo as a "bloodbath."
"While the US State Department was trying to separate Islamists from 'moderate' rebels, they self-organized and went on a joint offensive," he wrote for Vzglyad. These militants, some of whom are backed by the US, "have unified command and a large arsenal of weapons, including tube artillery and multiple rocket launcher systems."
Krutikov referred to the militant offensive as the largest in the last two years. The operation has ostensibly been supported by all forces opposed to Damascus.
Well-armed seasoned fighters have been repositioned from the Idlib province for the Aleppo operation, which has seen the militants launching their attacks by sending suicide bombers on vehicles rigged with explosives to government-held military outposts and then going on the offensive. This tactic has been used in several Aleppo neighborhoods, including the 1070 Apartment complex, Dahiyat al-Assad, New Aleppo and Minyan.
Having sustained almost no reputational, territorial and military losses, "government-led forces have largely managed to repel the most large-scale and possibly the last offensive of jihadists and their allies near Aleppo," Krutikov said. "The militants are no longer receiving reinforcements, while the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is becoming stronger."
Russian officials and experts have warned that radical groups could well use the humanitarian pause to regroup and resupply, but they have also expressed hope that the United States would use this opportunity to convince so-called "moderate" rebels to break ties with terrorist organizations. Washington has so far failed to deliver on this promise.
"Our American partners mistakenly believe that terrorism could be tamed," Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told China Radio International. "This is impossible. Terrorism is like a snake – if you turn away, it will strike."
The Russian diplomat noted that the fact that Washington does not let Damascus and Moscow destroy al-Nusra Front points to the US "protecting" the terrorist group.
"We understand that Western and regional countries invested a lot of efforts, funds and resources into al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups. But those are terrorists and one cannot cozy up to them," she added.