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Opinion: Aleppo’s Mistakes | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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People walk on the rubble of damaged buildings after an airstrike in the rebel held area of Aleppo’s Baedeen district, Syria, May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

What is taking place in Aleppo is a war—we know how wars spark but we never know how they end.

Aleppo, one of the biggest cities, started a revolution before its collapse in the past few days in front of the Russian- Iranian pro-Assad coalition. But the war is not over yet; half of the territories are still out of the regime’s control so no one should rush to propaganda and celebrations so early.

Aleppo has represented a major battle that is worth pondering. Yet, its collapse doesn’t mean that the Assad coalition has won, but that the rebels have failed in managing events.

Since July 2012, Aleppo started a revolution and remained a battlefront and a symbol of the Syrian revolution- also the rebels succeeded in connecting it by land with Hama.

Throughout the past four years, this city has never witnessed a calm night amidst the regime attempts to regain authority over it. The regime realized that the city might become a center for the opposition government and the alternative state.

The regime resorted to raising fears of terrorism and it did actually set free extremist detainees. True, extremist groups were formed parallel to the opposition.

Jabhat al-Nusra is among the extremist groups that were formed later on and it represents an expansion to al-Qaeda. Unfortunately, this group was supported by regional parties and its fighters were allowed to cross the borders, not to mention the media coverage provided.

It was certain that the involvement of religious extremist armed groups will serve the regime’s interests and will intimidate international and regional governments. Jordan that used to be a passageway and headquarters cut back its role. As for Saudi Arabia, it started chasing anyone proven to have connections with these groups.

The Syrian opposition split into two factions: one that supports the Syrian Free Army and represents the national opposition and another one that supports extremist groups considering them the strongest and fastest.

Those who supported Jabhat al-Nusra and other extremist formations have actually facilitated the mission of Iran, Russia and their militias.

The five-year-old war in Syria is between two major teams: forces that represent the majority of Syrians and the military and security regime. The fact that the regime has allied with ISIS does not justify resorting to Jabhat al-Nusra, because the revolution and its legitimacy and dependence on extremist groups don’t meet.

Unfortunately, restrictions were imposed on the Free Syrian Army from the allies due to competition—Western countries used the rise of terrorist groups in the battle as an excuse to prevent the opposition from owning qualitative weapons and this facilitated the regime’s bombing operations.

These are not the only mistakes that caused the collapse of Aleppo and other regions—the Iranian and Russian involvement in the war and the insufficient U.S. reaction towards this coalition were also reasons behind the current tragic situation.

However, the ongoing equation that allowed the regime to achieve victory can’t continue for internal reasons, as the majority is still against the regime, and for the necessity of regional balance that cannot tolerate the Iranian expansion in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.