Saturday 6 February, 2016 Update: Aleppo


*Short update, more coming tomorrow*

The suspension of the latest round of Syrian peace talks this past week was hardly a surprise. Going into the talks, expectations were not high. The Syrian government has not appeared to be sincere in its efforts to reach a political solution to the conflict. Quite the contrary, in fact. As the UN-sponsored talks in Geneva got underway last week, the Syrian pro-government forces, with Russian support, began an offensive against opposition forces in Aleppo province. As of Saturday afternoon, the city of Aleppo is on the verge of falling under siege by government control. Syrian and Russian airstrikes have also been hitting opposition forces fiercely. Civilian casualties are reported to be high and the fighting has triggered a new wave of refugees moving towards the Turkish border. The Turks have, for all intents and purposes, closed the border to refugees for the time being. Turkey fears that upwards of 70,000 refugees are moving north towards the border. The UN puts the estimated number at 15,000.

As for the peace talks in Geneva, a three-week suspension has been declared by the UN. During that time, the Syrian government is going to increase its efforts to either bring about a military solution to the conflict, or set the stage so that when talks resume, the government will be negotiating from a position of strength. The loss of Aleppo would be disastrous for all anti-government forces and could conceivably force them to sue for peace.

It is clear that al-Assad and his pro-government forces are winning the war at the moment. And as Aleppo goes, so could the fate of the opposition too.