20:53 GMT +322 March 2018
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    Damage to the Umayyed Mosque in Old City, East Aleppo, used as a sniper centre by Nusra Front and Ahrar Al Sham

    Liberated Aleppo Offers Syrian Army 'Keys to the North'

    © Photo: Vanessa Beeley
    Middle East
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    The liberation of Aleppo has become a landmark in the history of the years-long Syrian conflict, offering Damascus an opportunity to shift its attention to other areas, still held by radical groups, particularly the province of Idlib and the city of Raqqa, journalist Alexander Khrolenko wrote in an opinion piece for RIA Novosti.

    "Aleppo is the most important economic center in the country, excluding Damascus. It is also the capital of the province which allows the authorities to control northern Syria, Kurdish-populated areas on the border with Turkey and northwestern Iraq," the analyst explained.  

    Aleppo is said to have been fully liberated earlier this week in a major government-led offensive, formally known as Operation Dawn of Victory. The operation was launched in mid-November, two and a half months after the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies encircled the militants in eastern districts of the city.

    The battle for Aleppo has long been viewed as the key to resolving the Syrian crisis. Unsurprisingly, the city's liberation has had a ripple effect across the country. The victory has weakened radical groups located in the province of Idlib. It will also be instrumental in severing what Khrolenko described as a "black corridor" stretching from the Turkish border to Iraq through Aleppo, Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.

    "Until recently, the militants controlled key oil fields and communications channels with Turkey in the Euphrates valley. Aleppo's liberation has undermined the economic base of terrorist groups and the supply routes to Raqqa, the capital of Daesh's caliphate," the analyst said. "Now the Syrian Arab Army could focus on two regions, Idlib and Raqqa."

    There are other reasons that make the victory in Aleppo significant.

    The Syrian Arab Army "destroyed the terrorist enclave in Aleppo, eliminating numerous springs of a mechanism created by the West to wreck sovereign states. The loss of the second largest city in the country is a devastating blow for adversaries of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He now has an opportunity to strengthen statehood over much of the country," the analyst explained.

    This is not to say that there have been no setbacks. On Monday, Daesh recaptured Palmyra, an iconic ancient city which has already been partially destroyed by the brutal group.

    "Many battles, including Palmyra's liberation, are looming. However, it has already become clear that Syria, Russia, Iran and China have gotten in the way of a US-led war of conquest. Well-armed professional 'Syrian rebels' have only been capable of killing civilians and 'exposing' their masters," the analyst said.

    In Khrolenko's opinion, the loss of Aleppo could well become a lesson for NATO leadership and US President Barack Obama, whose policies in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have become a failure.

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    Syrian crisis, military operation in Syria, ground operation, Islamic extremism, radical Islam, Syrian conflict, counterterrorism, Syrian Arab Army, Bashar al-Assad, Syria, Aleppo
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