Decisive battle for Aleppo

The Syrian regime has driven back the rebels in eastern Aleppo with the help of Russian fighter jets and tens of thousands of people are fleeing the areas under attack. A victory for the government forces in the northern Syrian city could mark a turning point in the civil war. Aleppo's recapture will bolster terrorist groups, commentators predict, concluding that US President Obama is partly to blame for the course the war has taken.

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Financial Times (GB) /

Assad's triumph will strengthen Islamists

The military success of the Syrian regime will push more recruits into the arms of Sunni extremists and terrorists, the Financial Times complains:

“While the Assad regime remains in place, even as a ward of Russia and Iran, it will be a spur to Sunni insurgents, ever more radicalised even if they do not throw in their lot with Isis or al-Qaeda. ... But the destruction and death is such that many Syrians have little or nothing to return to, and most of the roughly 5m refugees over the border in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan have little or nothing to lose. As things stand, Syria and its surroundings may be looking at a bottomless pool of potential terrorist recruits for long to come - and this regime will end up remembered for its ability to manufacture despairing extremists fuelled by religious fanaticism.”

Milliyet (TR) /

Obama responsible for fiasco in Syria

Obama will be to blame if Aleppo falls, Milliyet complains:

“When the Arab Spring rebellion reached the gates of Damascus, Assad and his party quickly turned it into a massacre of Sunnis and the neighbouring countries tried to stop it out of religious conviction, the US remained silent and even indifferent. … When the Syrian people began to organise their uprising against the government Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time, initially promised the US's full backing for the movement. Then she wanted to choose those whom the US would support and began to dislike the opposition and in the end backed it in a way that was ultimately more harmful than beating it up. … If Aleppo falls most of the 300,000 people who sought refuge there as their last hope will die. Obama's name will be inscribed on their collective gravestone.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Tweets from the battlefield

Bana, a seven-year-old girl, has been reporting via her Twitter account on life in war-torn eastern Aleppo. In the five or so years that have passed since the civil war began in Syria the role of social media has changed completely, Aftonbladet observes:

“When the Arab Spring began social media were an important instrument for supporting the demands for democratic reforms. The protest movement felt like the beginning of a new world order. But the counter-stroke was harder than one could ever have imagined. Now we are following the developments through the eyes of people like seven-year-old Bana. In one of her most recent tweets she wrote that her dolls had died in the bombings. And the world simply looks on.” (HR) /

Aleppo is being liberated

Western media are wrong to keep referring to the "fall" of Aleppo, columnist Zlatko Dizdarević writes in a guest article written for the Bosnian website and published on

“Why hasn't it occurred to anyone to mention that more than a 100,000 people from eastern Aleppo who according to Western media were being butchered by Assad's troops are now fleeing to the western parts that have been under Assad's control since the war started? … There has also been no mention of why radical jihadists fighting for the IS, the Al-Nusra Front and other butchers and terrorists were declared partners and allies who were to be protected at any cost [from Assad]. Meanwhile in Europe and the US, Muslims have been subjected to a dreadful stigmatization. The anti-Muslim hysteria seems oblivious to the fact that Muslims are the biggest victims of these battles.”

Yeni Şafak (TR) /

World standing by and watching genocide

Assad and his allies are using the cruellest methods to recapture Aleppo from the opposition, Yeni Şafak complains:

“The [Syrian] regime is committing a genocide of civilians to break the resistance of the opposition. ... The plan of dividing Syria into three parts, with an Alawite state bordered in the north by Aleppo and in the south by Damascus and with access to the Mediterranean, has been an open secret for the past two years. This plan is being accepted tacitly by the international community. There can be no other explanation for the world's indifference to the screams of the people who are struggling to survive amidst barbaric bombings and the destruction of Aleppo. Even countries that distance themselves from Assad are remaining silent about this massacre meant to secure control over Aleppo for the regime, because they have branded much of the armed opposition as liver-eating cannibals.”

De Standaard (BE) /

End of Russia's marginalisation

With the partial recapture of Aleppo the Syrian war is entering a decisive phase and the gleeful winner is Putin, De Standaard complains:

“The tragic result is just a matter of time. For Europe and the West, the geostrategic dilemma is becoming more and more hopeless. … The Syrian people are the victims of a cynical strategy. The country is in ruins. With Donald Trump it will be even more difficult than with Barack Obama to persuade the US to intervene in such conflicts. The message to Vladimir's Russia is clear: after half a century of marginalisation Moscow can spread its wings and extend its zone of influence once more. For Europe this is a worrying prospect. The world around us has become more unstable than it has been since the end of World War II. Even if the guns in Syria soon fall silent, we won't have any reason to rejoice.”