Vox breaks down recent events in Aleppo
The fall of Aleppo, explained
00We begin the day with what is looking
0:01more and more like the final fall of
0:03Aleppo. The regime of Bashar al-Assad,
0:06Russia, Iran, and they’re affiliated
0:08militia are the ones responsible for
0:11what the UN called a complete meltdown
0:14of humanity. The battle for Aleppo is over
0:18″Are you truly incapable of shame is
0:21there literally nothing that can shame you?”
0:26Aleppo has fallen. The city, formerly
0:29the most populous place in Syria was the
0:32site of a major battle between Bashar al
0:34Assad government and rebel forces.
0:37The rebels control the eastern half of the
0:38city and Assad the West.
0:43The story of Syria’s Civil War is a
0:48story of flip-flops. Early on it looked
0:50like the Assad regime was finished,
0:52intervention by Iran and support by
0:54Russia help prop them up. Then the rebels
0:57backed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and
0:59several other sides turned the tides and
1:02this happened a number of different
1:03times inside the conflict.
1:05September 2015 was a turning point in the Syrian
1:08civil war. That’s when Russia intervened
1:10directly for the first time.
1:12Russian airstrikes began pounding rebels
1:14under the cover of hitting ISIS. Russian
1:17airstrikes played a decisive role in
1:19allowing Assad to encircle Aleppo. The
1:21bombardment made it very difficult for
1:23rebels to operate freely allowing Assad
1:26to move towards Aleppo and eventually
1:27encircle the city.
1:30A siege is a military tactic where forces on one side
1:32surround the other side, including any
1:35civilians trapped in there and deny
1:36supplies from entering the city. There is
1:39a grim logic to imposing a siege on Aleppo.
1:42If you deny the rebels food and medicine
1:45eventually they lose the physical and
1:46mental capability to fight. Assad’s vicious
1:50siege worked as intended. The rebels
1:52collapsed allowing assad forces with
1:55Iranian and Russian backing to stream
1:57into eastern Aleppo. Almost immediately
2:00reports of massacres started filtering
2:02out of civilians being killed on the
2:04streets of women committing suicide to
2:06avoid being raped by Assad’s forces.
2:09It’s hard to know how many were killed in
2:10this initial purge. We do know
2:13shortly after the siege was broken an
2:15evacuation agreement was struck allowing
2:18again an unknown number of civilians to
2:20escape into other territory mostly to
2:22the city of Idlib, still in rebel hands.
2:24The United States had the military power
2:26to break the siege of Aleppo and prevent
2:28the city from falling but doing so would
2:30have been extremely dangerous.
2:35For one thing the United States would
2:37have needed to have coordinated with
2:38rebels on the ground, some of whom were
2:41extremists. For another it would mean
2:43that American planes would have been
2:44flying in hostile airspace with Russian
2:47planes. If the United States were to
2:48engage Russian planes that would mean a
2:50direct exchange of fire between two
2:52nuclear-armed powers a risk that very
2:54few in Washington were willing to take.
2:57even if the US had temporarily broken
2:59the siege of Aleppo and prevented it from
3:00falling it would have required a
3:03tremendous an open-ended commitment to
3:05prevent Assad from simply reimposing the
3:07siege after Americans left. Whether or
3:11not you think an American intervention
3:12would have been worth the risks
3:14there’s no way to save Aleppo now. The
3:16city has fallen and Assad’s troops have
3:18gone and committed untold atrocities
3:19with who knows how many more left to go.
3:22The rebels have been dealt a devastating
3:24blow one it’s not clear they can
3:26recover from. This victory for Assad
3:28has been achieved with the support of
3:30two major international powers Russia
3:32and Iran and it has involved atrocities
3:35that are supposed to be prevented under
3:36international law. They fought
3:38horrifically and they won that’s the
3:42lesson of Aleppo.