The capture of Aleppo will without a doubt mark the biggest victory for Bashar Al Assad and its allies and the end of the dream for the rebels. This is the greatest achievement of the regime since the civil war began in 2011 – and the heavist blow for the rebels-. Aleppo was a key city for the Syrian Civil War. Having lost the city the rebels cannot pretend anymore or dream of a military triumph over Assad’ army. More importandly their position at the negotiating table is severely compromised.
Their backers do not view them anymore as actors that could replace Assad. Loyalists troops. meanwhile, are now in control of all Syrians major Urban centers : Damas,Aleppo,Homs (where the Revolution Started) and Hama. Even if they lost Palmyra last week, the government sucess in Aleppo will embolden its forces to redouble their efforts to end the war with a military solution.
In upcoming 2017, the loyalists will no doubt capitalize use all their forces to regain more rebel-held territory in the country especially in the Idlib region , where the rebels are in total control. Progress by government forces are not just seen in Aleppo but also in Hama province in the Maares area and in the suburds near Damascus that were under rebel control for years. Bombardements coupled with starvation tactics has proven to be a dreadful tactic , and the enclaves surrendered one by one, slowly but surely.
The Syrian Rebels no longer pose an existential threat to the Assad Government. Rebels role will be limited to harass in relentless attacks the SAA troops and their allies and seek to inflict the maximum of casualties to keep the Revolution Alive.
Is the Civil War over?
The civil war is closer to the end now with the Regime victory in Aleppo , but the fight is still far from over , and the victory is still very far for Assad. Indeed a military victory would take years for the Syrian government to achieve, even with the full help of Russia and Iran. The main problem for Assad is the lack of men. Indeed no more Shiites parents are willing to send their sons to be beheaded in remote parts of the country as cannon fodder. While most of their best Units such as the terrifying “Tiger Unit” are conducted offensive operations in Damas and Aleppo, other units are poorly trained and equipped such as the one that was in Palmyra and was crushed by the Islamic State on Dec.11. They tried to fix the problem by using in their ranks foreign fighters (Iran, Afghanistan,Pakistan,Hezbollah..) but the influx of foreign fighters (mostly Shiite militias ) did not permit to replace the lives loss in five years of civil war. Without to mention the desertions and defections that plagued the Syrian Army in the early stages of the Civil War. The Syrian Governmental Army is overstretched government forces will have trouble not only seizing new ground but also finding the troops to hold it.
Damascus may also start to see its foreign allies lose interest in the fight. The intensive support al Assad has received from Iran, Russia and Hezbollah is largely what has given his troops the upper hand against the rebels, who have had far less foreign aid to work with. Once Damas would have regain its grip on power and vital part of the territories , these allies especially Russia would seek to exit the conflict as quick as possible. For Economic Reasons, but also because they want to save appearances and now that the current regime has no chance of crushing the rebels in the short term. But the most important factor in Russian decision would be that they are strongly opposed to their partner in crime Iran. Indeed strong ideological and strategic issues are disturbing their working relationship , as seen during the battle of Aleppo.
Economic Incentives and Negotiated Agreement :
After Five years of Civil War , the Syrian Government is bombing on a daily basis rebels position making lives and economic viability impossible for rebels regions ,since factories and housing projects are constantly bombed. On the contrary Government zones offer relatives economic prosperity, where you can create a business and jobs.
Still the Government recently lost oil-rich region of Palmyra and will see even more difficulties to sustain its army. As a consequence he will within few years be almost entirely dependent on foreign sponsors for its survival. Foreign sponsors (Iran and Russia) that are strongly hit by the oil crisis and the fall of the oil price. Despite this terrible economic conjuncture , they will have to find a way to increase their financial support to Syria. Economic incentives could therefore push this power to press Assad to accepte a negotiatied settlement with the rebels in order to relieve them from their financial burden.
Update on Situation :
A ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey on Tuesday was supposed to end the fighting, with the besieged rebels and civilians given a safe passage out. Within a few hours, however, shelling of the city intensified and buses sent to evacuate thousands of Syrians returned empty.