AFTER more than two years of pitched battles between President Bashar Assad and his foes, rubble-strewn Aleppo is a shadow of its former self. Yet it is undoubtedly the biggest of the spoils still being contested in Syria’s war. At best, the rebels can hope to hang on to the few districts they still control. But if Mr Assad takes them, he will be one step closer to vanquishing the mainstream opposition that rose up against his rule in 2011.
His forces made a move towards that goal on February 17th when, backed by Shia militiamen including Hizbullah from Lebanon, they made surprise attacks on villages north of the city. There appeared to be two aims. First, to take the only road from rebel-held areas of Aleppo to Turkey, thus blocking s...
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