A mini world war rages in the fields of Aleppo

The Washington Post reports: Across the olive groves and wheat fields of the northern Syrian province of Aleppo, a battle with global dimensions risks erupting into a wider war.

Russian warplanes are bombing from the sky. Iraqi and Lebanese militias aided by Iranian advisers are advancing on the ground. An assortment of Syrian rebels backed by the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are fighting to hold them back. Kurdish forces allied both to Washington and Moscow are taking advantage of the chaos to extend Kurdish territories. The Islamic State has snatched a couple of small villages, while all the focus was on the other groups.

Ahead of a supposed pause in the hostilities negotiated by world powers and due to be implemented later in the week, the conflict seems only to be escalating. Turkey joined in over the weekend, firing artillery across its border at Kurdish positions for a second day Sunday and prompting appeals from the Obama administration to both Turks and Kurds to back down.

Syria’s civil war long ago mutated into a proxy conflict, with competing world powers backing the rival Syrian factions almost since the earliest days of the armed rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad.

But perhaps never before have the dangers — or the complications — of what amounts to a mini world war been so apparent as in the battle underway for control of Aleppo. [Continue reading…]

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