Closing In: Russia, Iran, Assad "Encircle" Syria's Largest City As Peace Talks Collapse In Geneva

Tyler Durden's picture

Back in October, we previewed the “promised” battle for Aleppo, Syria’s largest city prior to the war.

By the time Russia began constructing an air base at Latakia, the city - which is immensely important both from a strategic and psychological perspective - was controlled by a hodgepodge of rebels and militants including al-Qaeda, the Free Syrian Army, and ISIS.

As we noted four months ago, if Russia and Hezbollah manage to recapture the city, it would effectively restore the Assad government in Syria even if the east of the country is still controlled by Islamic State.

In many ways, the city is emblematic of the wider conflict. Here are a few visuals which underscore the extent of the desolation and utter sorrow that plague this once thriving urban center.

And for anyone who might have missed it, here's a look at nighttime light emissions in the city along with a few visuals from "a night in Aleppo":

Despite the fact that the city - like many others across the country - has been reduced to a smoldering pile of rubble, it's key to Russia and Iran's plans to consolidate Assad's power in the west of the country.

As noted above, if the SAA can retake Aleppo, Assad will have control of most of the country's major urban centers, effectively restoring his grip on power. 

So critical is the city, that when the SAA, Hezbollah, and a variety of Shiite militas were gearing up for the push north, Quds commander Qassem Soleimani himself showed up to rally the troops (he was later injured on the frontlines).

Fast forward four months and it appears that after a protracted fight, Russia and Hezbollah are indeed poised to recapture the city where militants are now surrounded. Critically, Russia and Iran have now cut off supply lines from Turkey. 

"Backed by Russian firepower and Hezbollah militants, Syrian government troops have cut off rebel supply lines between the northern city of Aleppo and Turkey," Bloomberg writes. "Taking Aleppo, Syria’s former commercial hub, would give Russia, Iran and Assad more bargaining power at any future settlement talks and more say in how the region will be redefined."

Speaking of settlement talks, negotiations in Geneva brokered in part by John Kerry were suspended on Wednesday as a Saudi-backed rebel coalition voiced anger over Russia's airstrikes near Aleppo. On Thursday, Kerry demanded that Moscow halt the offensive so peace talks could resume. Although America's top diplomat swears his phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov was "robust" Lavrov said on Wednesday The Kremlin doesn't see why the campaign against "the terrorists" should stop. "I can't see any reason why we should halt our aerial operations until the terrorists shall be defeated'', Lavrov said, flatly.

"On the ground, nearly 40,000 people have fled an offensive this week by President Bashar al-Assad's regime north of the city of Aleppo," AFP said on Thursday, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (or in other words, "citing one guy in London"). "Assad's forces also entered two Shiite villages that were under siege by rebels, prompting what state news agency SANA called 'mass celebrations' in the streets of Nubol and Zahraa."

For their part, the Turks are of course blaming the Russians for the stalled peace talks. 

"Russia continues to kill people in Syria. Could there be such a peace gathering? Could there be such peace talks?" President Tayyip Erdogan asked in a speech in Peru."In an environment where children are still being killed, such attempts do not have any function apart from making things easier for the tyrant," he said.

And trust us, Erdogan knows something about what makes "things easier for a tyrant."

In any event, the urgency expressed by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey shouldn't be mistaken for some kind of benevolent regard for the lives are lost each and every day the war drags on. Rather, Washington, Riyadh, and Ankara know that if Aleppo falls, that's it for the "moderate" opposition.

Sure there will still be elements of the FSA and other groups explicitly backed by the West and its regional allies, and they'll undoubtedly wage a long war of attrition against the SAA. But once the urban centers are secured, Assad can begin the slow process of rebuilding his security apparatus and restablishing some semblance of normalcy in the country's west.

As for eastern Syria, the fate of Raqqa and Der al-Zour still hangs in the balance.

Once the west is solidified, the question will be: can the US, France, and Britian swallow their pride and coordinate with Russia and Iran to oust Islamic State? 

Or perhaps the more important question is this: what will Russia and Iran discover if they manage to liberate Raqqa before the West has time to bury the bodies (figuratively speaking) and burn all the evidence?

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Silver Bug's picture

Stability needs to be restored. The West has proven that it cannot do this. Russia is stepping up, yet it comes with a severe price, as seem from the crashing oil markets and the extreme sanctions they faced.

El Oregonian's picture

Kerry! Quit Horsing around!

SWRichmond's picture

Next up:  collaborator-bashing, and it won't be pretty.

Croesus's picture

Paging John McCain....Paging John McCain...

"ISIS is on the line...they're asking for help..." 

Yep...the company you keep:,+isis&source=lnms&tbm=isch&s...


NoDebt's picture

My heart goes out to the families of all those CIA agents who are about to die when Russia and Assad take that city back over.

WordSmith2013's picture

Russia knows exactly where this peace process is going.


Putin Goes Ballistic In Syria, Obliterates The USA’s Secret ‘Mideast Strategy’

Nutsack's picture

So what will the NeoJews do next?

0b1knob's picture

Aleppo still has drinkable water, unlike Flint.


COSMOS's picture

"Assad's forces also entered two Shiite villages that were under siege by rebels.... so Kerry wanted a ceasefire on the main line so that his terrorists could finish off the encircled villages and do ethnic cleansing.  What a MOFO.  You F@#King EFFENDI.

Tom Servo's picture

hey, the fake blood on women picture is back! lol


clymer's picture

I was going to say, they dont look like crisis actors. You may have them confused with folks from Newtown..

clymer's picture

we're fucked for making this happen, USA

Sanity Bear's picture

"We"? Did you have a hand in it?

Motasaurus's picture

Every day you're not tearing down the halls of power and stringing bankers up in the town square is a day you are complicit in the actions of your country.

Nobody Important's picture

"we're fucked for making this happen, USA"

No, but we sould be!

Global Hunter's picture

Hi WTFRLY, I watched the video, I noticed the statement from the club which is on the video, I couldn't find that anywhere else. I found a short statement from the club on its website in Greek but it wasn't the same as the one on your video.  do you have a source for that statement?  I am interested in re-posting to other people (I play football myself).

Global Hunter's picture

Thank you for the response.  edit: I see in the original video the statement you have it in quotations.  I was mistaken that other statements were part of the club and players statement.  It is clear now.

Abitdodgie's picture

By the looks of all the major city's in Syria ( now completely flattened ) I would say mission accomplished America , a job well done . Now we can move onto Iran.

FreeMoney's picture

Team America!  Fuck Yeah!

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Except I don't think KBR or Halliburton will be getting the reconstruction contract.  A sad day for the Empire.



Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Kellogg ?????????? ?????? is leading the bidding process at this moment in time.

MrBoompi's picture

The Rothschilds will fund any reconstruction regardless of who gets the contracts.  

Motasaurus's picture

Yep. They got what they came for: Destruction of Syria. Collapse of the EU. Utter humiliation of the US. Offloading the house of Saud. 

Lore's picture

I dunno about that. If there's anything that could motivate a beleaguered sovereign power to pivot eastward, having your cities flattened by the western military industrial complex might be it.

Canadian propaganda is pathetic.  Tonight's 'news' segment appears to show a father with his son - "so hungry he cannot move his legs" - followed by a fuzzy clip of a helicopter dropping a pair of objects (bombs? food? trombones?) and the narrative: "Assad is targeting children."  Naturally, there's no discussion of the groups in there, who sponsors them, what they're actually doing, or why. 

Really, after you strip away the touchy-feely fluff, we're being given ZERO real information, which tells me that things are going badly, becuase if they were going well, we'd be fed some happy noise.  As things stand, you wouldn't know any proxy war was being fought at all.  Not a single shot.  We certainly don't hear about the progress being made by the Russians.

Wonder what a really honest newscast would look like.

Nobody Important's picture

It's been so long since I'v seen one, I can't remember.

Aussie V's picture

I'm in my late 50's and I'v never seen the world or the west or the media like it is today. Not even close.

Truth has been discarded by Politicians, Media Editors, Anchors, Producers, and seemingly anyone with influence or power. Everyone seems willing to sell their souls for the almighty buck.

One wonders (I know I do) if this is a ramification of society in general turning their backs on their religious beliefs? Even IF many of the population beliefs were half hearted to start with?

To me it seems that people's consciences have been seared. Locked out. Finished.

The Govt and media are simply a reflection of the individual. Look much hope can you muster from what you see? 

Poundsand's picture

How bad is American foreign policy when you have to act like your are fighting you own allies.  Worse, Turkey, Britain and France are all having to pretend the same thing, that they are at war with ISIS. 

Surely this shit storm was the brain child of a committee led by John (I wish I was like my old man) McCain and Lindsey (spread the butt cheeks) Graham.  Sadly, the people there are far more screwed than those CIA people on the ground.  Just google some photos of what has been done in Syria and Iraq over the last 10 years.

SilverDOG's picture

Putin chess played US into it's own two face painted corner.

No act.

MIC singing, "Ba da ba bu ba We're lovin' it."

Enki Anu's picture

Anyone signing in with Devil deserve what they get.

the phantom's picture

Don't hold your breath that the US, Turks, and Saudi's are going to let Aleppo fall that easily.  Watch Turkey's border movements to the North, they are planning a contingency to save their pet project.  This could get very messy.

Amun's picture

It is certainly going that way.

And, because Trukey does not have a professional army, but operates a draft, compulsory military service, This would be the beginning of the end for the current regime in Turkey.


"body bag, also known as a cadaver pouch or human remains pouch (HRP), is a non-porous bag designed to contain a human body, used for the storage and transportation of corpses." During the Cold War, vast reserves of body bags were built up in anticipation of millions of fatalities from nuclear war

Lex_Luthor's picture

They will get obliterated from air. They cannot do anything.

Freddie's picture

Russia is all over shit coming and going at the Syrian-Turkish border.  Turkish troops and tanks would get about 100 yards before there were totally wiped out.

Then the Russian will probably wiped out anything within 100 yards inside the Turkish borders.

NATO will not come to Turkeys aid.  Shit - NATO cannot even protect their borders nor can the USA.  Joke.

Jstanley011's picture

Turkey already declared de facto war on Russia when they shot down that Russian jet.

Raging Debate's picture

Moustache - They are our American countrymen dickwad. No shouldnt be there like Vietnam, but doesnt mean I want my people dead - or there's for that matter. 

gramps's picture

You need to go to Zoolanders school for kids that don't read good.

TurnwiseWiddershins's picture

Exactly, the wives especially know the game and are complicit in their husbands' evil doing.  They know where the money comes from, where the endless benefits come from, where that wealth and leisure comes from.

They feed their children bread baked with brain splatter, and fill their soccer mom SUV's with bloody oil.

Max UK's picture

They are not just complicit, they are often the very cause. Women's sense of entitlement is typically infinite, and if her man has any moral boundaries that limit the quality of life that she deserves, then these flickers of conscience are obstacles that have to be bludgeoned and ground down. See Lady Macbeth as archetypal case in point.

The old adage 'Behind every successful man is a woman,' should be updated to 'behind every male sell-out, is a woman.' And some variation on that for Bath-house Barry.

The real rulers of the world don't need to pressure hetero men; the men's wives can typically be counted on to promote any and all corruption that contribute to her quality of life expectations and needs. Homo men are a different case; baited and then blackmailed. 

Paveway IV's picture

Aleppo will be important, but focusing on that would be the strategy the SAA would employ (for obvious reasons). It would be a mistake.

Russia and Iran are not there to restore Syria's pride or win back real estate. They're there to kill jihadis or drive them back to Turkey - where they came from. Doing that does not involve getting bogged down in year-long seige wars for individual cities. Russia, especially, will be satisfied to contain (trap?) rebel leftovers in Aleppo, but they're looking to strangle the entire rebel force - al Nusra, ISIS, FSA or whatever. They will keep moving to Idlib and Homs after they've closed the Turkish border. The east can wait - it's useless to open weak, ineffective fronts all across Syria. Grinding away at heavily entrenched rebels in Aleppo is a waste of time. They have no more fuel, food, water or ammo - they are not a threat. 

Reconquering Aleppo is a checkers move. Russia and Iran have been playing chess.

scraping_by's picture

True dat. The MSM narrative has always been to call Deash (ISIS, ISIL, whatever) a gang of 'terrorists.' In reality, they're an army in the field. And the methodology of destroying that is well known. Flank, encircle, cut off supplies and other logistics, then choose between quick or slow elimination. Quick, expensive in casualties and materiel; slow, you have to keep the encircling lines static for a long time. The middle ground is opportunistic, slowly pressure and hit hard on the weaknesses that will show up.

So, not next week, but certainly not next year, Aleppos comes under the legal government of Syria. And then the rebuilding begins.

rikiki's picture

Always a pleasure to read your insight paveway,

but i think you are underestimating the value of taking this city, the syrian army have been batling these zionist roaches for five years, retaking Aleppo would be a huge moral boost to the syrian army and the peoples.

it's like the siege of leningrad during the great patriotic war, the city was encircled from all sides and the cost of defendig it and keep it supplied was astronomic, but holding to it was a beacon of hope to the rest of the red army defenders, and it was worth the sacrifices.

Maybe retaking aleppo will not bring an end to this madness, but i think it will surely cement the autority of bashar el assad, and most pf the syrians will raly behind him.

Peace from Algeria.

Paveway IV's picture

I agree that it's really important for Syria and the Syrian people and don't mean to diminish the symbolic value of retaking it. That's going to happen anyways - eventually.

It's just my observation that the Russians are calling the shots here. I can imagine that at every military strategy meeting, there's Syrian Army guys pounding on the table saying how important it is to retake Aleppo. But on the other side of the table, there's a Russian general saying,

"Nyet. nyet... Russian Federation temporary visits to Syria for liver-eater removal. Jihadi whacks-a-mole not plan to work. Turkey head of snake. Separate Turkish head of snake from snake body in Syria. Russia soldier goes home for drink and Russian women before NATO war. Glorious Syrian Army cleans up snake body part in Aleppo and celebrate heros. Missions accomplish!"

rikiki's picture

i guess the best think the syrians can do right now is to listen to the russian military advices, after all the russians have the experiences on dealing with urban insurengency (grozny).

good luck for them, do not let any of this filthy zionist roaches get out of there alive.

Peace from Algeria.

Paveway IV's picture

rikiki - Hope everything is well in Algeria. We hear almost nothing about it in the U.S., but Mideastwire Blog had this piece a couple of weeks ago from El-Khabar: El-Khabar: “Algeria’s image abroad becomes bleaker; frightening scenarios…” I realize anybody's country that is dependent to any degree on oil prices is having difficulty right now, including Algeria. I don't understand the article's emphasis on Algeria's image abroad. I would expect Algeria to be affected by low oil prices, but that's not an image problem for Algeria, it's just economic reality.