Battle For Aleppo Emerges As Military And Symbolic Tipping Point

With the water supply to the Syrian city of Aleppo no longer functioning and the death toll rising, Russia came under pressure to end its bombing campaign, which is seen as assisting the Syrian government’s offensive to recapture the city.

Syria’s largest city is seen by many as both a tipping point in the Syrian War and symbolic of the war itself. The United Nations has warned of an impending humanitarian disaster as Iranian-backed government forces near retaking the city from rebels and just as foreign leaders prepare to gather in Geneva for another round of peace talks.

In a hard opinion piece in The Washington Post, Brookings Institution scholar Leon Wieseltier and Michael Ignatieff of the Harvard Kennedy School argue in favor of action in Syria by arguing that if the US and NATO do not defend Aleppo, they will be complicit in crimes of war.

“Aleppo is the new Sarajevo, the new Srebrenica, and its fate should be to the Syrian conflict what the fate of Sarajevo and Srebrenica were to the Bosnian conflict: the occasion for the United States to bestir itself, and for the West to say with one voice, “Enough.” It was after Srebrenica and Sarajevo — and after the air campaign with which the West finally responded to the atrocities — that the United States undertook the statecraft that led to the Dayton accords and ended the war in Bosnia,” they write.

It is important because it reflects how instrumental Russian involvement has been in propping up the regime of Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad.

“The fact that Assad is this close to Aleppo, however, points to an undeniable truth: His forces currently have the initiative around the country,” says Zach Beauchamp in an article in Vox.

However, he notes, “it’s best to see the current advances in Aleppo and elsewhere as demonstrative of the back-and-forth nature of the Syrian civil war” and that before the intervention of Russia and Iran, Assad had lost most of the territory it maintained. If Iran and Russia are forced by the West to reach an agreement, that may change.

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