Does Obama want Assad, Putin to win military victory in Syria?

Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad along with cannon fodder recruited by Iran from Shia militias in Iraq and Afghanistan are on the verge of a tremendous victory, retaking Syria's largest city Aleppo and delivering a decisive blow against the rebel forces trying to overthrow the Syrian dictator.

Russia has delivered 200 airstrikes in the last 24 hours, pulverizing rebel positions in several towns surrounding Aleppo, cutting off their vital supply line from Turkey, and threatening a humanitarian crisis that's being called "the worst situation since the beginning of the war."

Meanwhile, the rebels are saying the US put pressure on Turkey and Saudi Arabia to cut back on deliveries of military supplies, weakening the rebel army at precisely the wrong moment, and, if true, raising questions about the US commitment to our stated policy of removing President Assad from power.

Washington Post:

Rebel fighters sounded desperate as they described enduring more than 200 airstrikes in the past 24 hours alone. Commanders from a range of rebel groups, from moderates to the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, issued urgent appeals for reinforcements from other parts of the country.

“We are fighting our most important battle yet. We are fighting to prevent a regime siege on Aleppo,” said Abdul Salam Abdul Razzak, a spokesman for the Noureddin al-Zinki rebel movement, reached by telephone on the northern outskirts of Aleppo.

“In the coming days, the battle will be fierce. We will keep fighting till the last fighter, and we hope we will not let our people down.”

Speaking in London at an international conference to secure donations to aid Syrians inside and outside the country, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that some 70,000 civilians were streaming toward Turkey’s borders to escape the offensive.

Aid agencies said at least 10,000 had gathered along Syria’s northern border with Turkey. But Turkey, which is already hosting about 2.5 million refugees and has come under pressure from the international community to halt the flow of foreign fighters, has kept its borders sealed shut to new refugee arrivals for the past year. Videos posted by activists on social media showed thousands of people clutching their possessions as they walked toward the Syrian side of the border crossing of Bab al-Salameh, but they were not allowed to cross into Turkey.

The fall of Aleppo to the government would present a major challenge to Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the rebels’ staunchest supporters, but it was unclear what, if anything, they could do to prevent it.

Compare the Russian effort to the "coalition" effort against Islamic State. At most, US aircraft fly a couple of dozen missions a day. Russia's 200 sorties suggests they don't give a damn about civilian  casualties and are hitting the rebels no matter where they are. It may be inhumane and constitute war crimes but it's also damned effective. 

The incredible naivete  of Obama and Kerry insisting that the Saudis and the Turks cut back on military supplies to the rebels at this point is incomprehensible. It should have been obvious that the game had changed a couple of weeks ago and Assad and Putin were ramping up for an offensive. Whether or not this offensive spells doom for the rebellion, it exposes the lack of influence and leverage the US can bring to bear on the war.

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