What’s going on?
Aleppo is a city in north-western Syria. Before the war, it was the most populated city in the country. Now, it’s a battleground, between Bashar Al-Assad’s government and the anti-government rebels.
The eastern half is controlled by the rebels while the western half is dominated by Assad and elements linked to him.
The chronology of the war
Early in the war, it looked like the Assad regime was nearly finished, but intervention and support for him from Iran and support from Russia helped kickstart their collapsing war effort. Then, the rebels were backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and several other sides, which helped them regain their foothold over the war. The situation kept tipping back and forth in favor of either side.
This was a turning point in the conflict, it’s when Russia directly engaged in the conflict with airstrikes. It helped give Assad the advantage and the ability to move up to siege the Eastern half of the city.
Why this is the ‘Aleppo Crisis’
A ‘siege’ is a military tactic that involves trapping a group of people, fighters, and civilians both in a certain location. Assad has employed a spine-chilling strategy. He figures that if you trap people and deny them supplies, those of food and medicine, they will likely give up to stop the fighting and torture. This is the reason that this could become a huge humanitarian crisis. There are around 250,000 people trapped in the city, they are running dangerously low on supplies, food, and medical equipment. The reason that the Assad government is so reluctant to provide aid is the fear that the rebels might use these supplies for their own needs.
The United States has the power to break the siege but it would entail working with extremist rebels on the ground. It could also mean direct engagement with Russian airplanes, and for all we know, it could mean World War 3. Even if the USA were to step in, it would not be short term. They would have to deploy troops for large periods of time. What’s more is that the USA is known to support and train radical elements like the Al-Qaeda and may be funding ISIS to keep the region in turmoil and stay present in the area.
The problem with this situation and Syria in general, is that there is no simple solution. No nation can intervene directly without risking diplomatic repercussions. Every diplomatic resolution tried so far has failed miserably. There’s no good answer.