Fierce urban fighting alongside Machiavellian political maneuvering is nothing new to the Syrian conflict. But the past few days have brought a new twist in the upheaval with lasting, if opaque, repercussions for Syria’s civil war and the many actors involved in it directly or by proxy.
The key center of the new convoluted and deadly developments is Aleppo, Syria’s prewar commercial capital, now a rubble-strewn ruin at the heart of the five-year-old conflict. After several days of intensified battles and curious political moves, a new crop of winners and losers is emerging. But identifying who they are, or who they stand for, is not easy.
The population of rebel-held eastern Aleppo was given a reprieve this weekend after rebel forces managed to break a siege imposed several weeks ago by Syrian government forces and their allies, Russia and Hezbollah. The blockade by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad aimed to break the opposition’s hold on parts of the key city.