Backed by unrelenting Russian air-strikes, Syrian pro-regime forces are now making rapid advances into rebel-held eastern Aleppo. The fall of the city’s Masaken Hanano district is a harsh symbolic blow, as it was the first area the rebels took in the summer of 2012. There is a mass exodus of residents ahead of the regime forces. Up to 20,000 have been displaced just over the past 72 hours, the Red Cross said Nov. 29. (BBC News, BBC News, AFP) But there is really nowhere to run. “This week I’ve changed locations three times,” a medic in east Aleppo said via social media. “In the shelter, we had dead people who we couldn’t take out because the bombardment was so intense.” (Reuters; Orient Net) Regime forces are apparently continuing to use chemical weapons. The activist Aleppo Media Center tweeted disturbing photos of what it said were victims of a chlorine attack in east Aleppo.
Leaflets being dropped on east Aleppo along with the bombs read: “This is your last hope….Save yourselves. If you do not leave these areas urgently, you will be annihilated… You know that everyone has given up on you. They left you alone to face your doom and nobody will give you any help.” (ReliefWeb)
The regime and its Kremlin allies explicitly hope to take all of Aleppo before Donald Trump assumes office. “The Russians want to complete the operation before Trump takes power,” an official in the pro-regime alliance told Reuters Nov. 29 on condition of anonymity.
Russia is the clear master of the game now. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, heretofore an outspoken supporter of the Syrian rebels and fierce opponent of Assad, has been silent as Aleppo now approaches its moment of truth after the long siege. “At the moment, Turkey’s foreign policy in Syria is hostage to Russia. Russia controls the air space and Turkish soldiers are 30 kilometers inside Syria,” Behlul Ozkan, assistant professor in international relations at Marmara University in Istanbul, told Reuters. “Turkey needs to be in agreement with Russia on every step it takes in Syria.”
It now comes to light that that what appears to be the final assault on Aleppo follows a meeting in Paris last month between Trump’s son and a Syrian politician with strong ties to Russia. The meeting with Donald Trump Jr at the Paris Ritz on Oct. 11 was hosted by Randa Kassis, portrayed by Russian media as leader of the “patriotic opposition” in Syria. It’s pretty obvious that “patriotic opposition” means domesticated pseudo-opposition; she advocates a “political transition” in cooperation with Bashar Assad, and actually supports Russia’s military assault. “Russia intervened to save the country, for the sake of Syria,” Kassis said on Al Jazeera’s Opposite Direction Nov. 22. “The problem is that you don’t know the Russians, you don’t understand the Russians… you just accuse the Russians of being against the opposition but you need to understand them.” (The Guardian, Nov. 23)
A strangely tolerant attitude for a regime that has now become genocidal, openly accused by the UN of the crime of extermination. The Russian intervention that Kassis lauds is now an instrument of this criminal enterprise. “This ferocious campaign is a war of extermination,” a physician in eastern Aleppo told The Guardian. “Everything is a target, whether human or tree or rock. Everything is being exterminated with the collusion of the United Nations. They all see and hear, but they will not answer, and they cannot stop this war machine.” He added: “We have nobody but God.”
Kassis’ propaganda role is to provide an “opposition” cover for continued Assad rule, and assuage the consciences of those within the DC Beltway of who might otherwise feel some pangs at the betrayal of the Syrians to his exterminationist assault.
We assumed Trump’s inauguration would be a “green light” for the destruction of Aleppo. It seems that his mere election suffices. The fall of the city portends the consolidation of the emergent fascist world worder dominated by Donald Trump and Vladimir Putiin.