" The Aleppo operation has now entered its deciding phase, whose objective is to take control of the entire length of border with Turkey. The West expected Syrian government forces to become bogged down in Latakia at least until April, when the change in weather would impose an operational pause. This area is vital to ensure continued supply of reinforcements and munitions by Turkey, which is why its control is a matter of life and death for the Islamists. Fighting in Latakia and Aleppo is tying down significant Syrian forces which otherwise could be used to annihilate the demoralized militants in Idlib province. But now, as it to spite the West, the terrorists are on the brink of complete defeat in Syria’s north-west. The victory will free sizable forces that could next be used to defeat Idlib province militants. That defeat, in turn, will destroy the terrorist front leaving the militants no choice but to flee to Turkey. Erdogan is no doubt breaking out in cold sweat, knowing that his terrorist chickens are about to come home to roost." politikus.ru
Rebel forces are giving up the fight in Syria's NW. Having been defeated in their own minds, they are either fleeing toward the Turkish border in the case of the Nusra and other jihadi elements or in the case of the less theologically inclined surrendering to the government and in many cases joining government sponsored local defense groups formed to hold population centers recently re-occupied by the Syrian government and its allies (R+6). There are local rebel counter-attacks here and there that may temporarily recapture some ground but the process grinds inexorably onward toward complete closure of the NW border with Turkey and logistical starvation for all the rebels in the NW. To paraphrase Mao, these fish are flopping around in a sea that is rapidly drying up. pl
" The gains position pro-regime forces to encircle opposition-held portions of Aleppo City by severing the last remaining opposition supply line that runs east from the Turkish border into the city. The regime can sever this final supply line at two locations: an outer location northwest of Aleppo City on the road to the Turkish border that passes through the towns of Huraytan and Kafr Hamra, or an inner location in the city’s eastern sector controlled by the armed opposition, such as the Hanano District. Russia’s air campaign has consistently targeted the outer location for the past three months, indicating that this is where pro-regime forces intend to complete the encirclement. This section of the supply line runs through rural terrain that Russian airpower can easily target and Iranian-backed ground forces can ultimately seize, whereas the inner location is more difficult as the terrain includes both topographic and urban barriers to rapid ground offensives. Pro-regime forces are meanwhile taking steps to buffer their forward line of troops (FLOT) to the north of Aleppo to make it possible to sustain the encirclement. Pro-regime forces will likely complete the encirclement of Aleppo in coming weeks and besiege the opposition inside the city in order to force Turkey and Saudi Arabia to concede to a negotiated settlement or ceasefire. " Institute for the Study of War (ISW)
Once again, ISW has some good analysts. In reading the work product of a group like ISW the "trick" is to winnow out the solid work from the political positions of the sponsoring organization. The same thing is true of government organizations like the State or Defense Departments.
There seems to be a kind of map incompetence or perhaps blindness prevalent among the Western MSM (irony). The situation in and around the city of Aleppo is consistently described as though the rebels hold the city more or less intact with a unified population of 300,000 dreading the approach of a foreign horde somewhat in the manner of the approach of Hulagu and the Mongols to Baghdad in the long ago (1258). In fact, R+6 has held most of Aleppo City for a long tine now with a small exit left open at the northern end of the pocket held by the rebels.
The objective in the northwest of Syria is the general destruction of the enemies' forces and the recovery of territory and population across the region. The City of Aleppo is a useful intermediate objective because the rebels will be forced to defend it in depth across the region and in so doing lose their "hats, asses and overcoats." This is reminiscent of Grant's design of the Overland Campaign in 1864 (from the Rapidan River to Richmond). Grant knew that Lee and "his boys" (Grant's phrase) would have to fight desperately to defend their capital. they did that their army was wrecked in the process. pl