Hassan Hassan writes: On two consecutive Fridays this month, Aleppo was the site of major victories against the Assad regime and ISIL in Syria. In southwestern Aleppo, anti-government forces broke a month-long siege enforced by the regime. In eastern Aleppo, a coalition of Arab and Kurdish forces drove out ISIL from one of its critical strongholds, Manbij.
The two developments are a blow to the country’s worst killers, and thus should be commended. The win in southwestern Aleppo saved about 300,000 civilians from a crippling siege and a slow death, while the defeat of ISIL in Manbij will further weaken the group and deprive it a crucial planning and recruitment hub.
Notwithstanding the benefits of defeating regime forces in southern Aleppo, the liberation of Manbij is in many ways a far greater victory for Syria.
The battle for breaking the siege was framed as a victory for Al Qaeda’s newly-rebranded Jabhat Fateh Al Sham (JFS), formerly Jabhat Al Nusra. A week after the JFS-led forces stormed the Artillery Academy, one of the regime’s key bastions near the city of Aleppo, a tug-of-war erupted on social media after JFS members lashed out at attempts by some rebels to take credit for the accomplishment. [Continue reading…]