For Bashar al-Assad, victory will mean ruling over an economic wasteland while suppressing a never-ending insurgency

The New York Times reports: With the Syrian government making large territorial gains in Aleppo on Monday, routing rebel fighters and sending thousands of people fleeing for their lives, President Bashar al-Assad is starting to look as if he may survive the uprising, even in the estimation of some of his staunchest opponents.

Yet, Mr. Assad’s victory, if he should achieve it, may well be Pyrrhic: He would rule over an economic wasteland hampered by a low-level insurgency with no end in sight, diplomats and experts in the Middle East and elsewhere say.

As rebel forces in Aleppo absorbed the harshest blow since they seized more than half the city four years ago, residents reported seeing people cut down in the streets as they searched frantically for shelter. The assault punctuated months of grinding battle that has destroyed entire neighborhoods of the city, once Syria’s largest and an industrial hub.

If Aleppo fell, the Syrian government would control the country’s five largest cities and most of its more populous west. That would leave the rebels fighting Mr. Assad with only the northern province of Idlib and a few isolated pockets of territory in Aleppo and Homs Provinces and around the capital, Damascus.

But analysts doubted that would put an end to five years of war that have driven five million Syrians into exile and killed at least a quarter of a million people. [Continue reading…]

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