After four and half years of war, Syrian regime forces captured Aleppo city with the direct help of their Iranian and Russian allies. Neither indiscriminate airstrikes on civilians in opposition-ruled areas nor the military intervention of Iran with its own IRGC units and pro-Iran militias with Iraqi (Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba), Lebanese (Hezbollah) and Afghan (Liwa Fatemiyoun) origins turned out to be game changers in the military balance for the Aleppo battle. But the Russian intervention in Syria created a new balance of power that the Syrian opposition and their backers couldn’t challenge. Despite all efforts by the Syrian opposition to prevent or break the siege on East Aleppo, Assad’s forces advanced rapidly with the help of their allies and finally captured almost all of East Aleppo’s opposition-ruled neighborhoods. A ceasefire deal – including the evacuation of civilians and opposition fighters – has been reached by Turkey and Russia. This may be the end of the battle for Aleppo city but it doesn’t mean the end of the civil war, at least for now.
In brief, the civil war will not end in Syria after the fall of Aleppo, but the relationship between local actors (the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition) and external actors (backers of Assad and the Syrian opposition) will determine the fate of the war at least in North Western Syria. While the Syrian opposition lacks unity and a supply of heavy weapons, the Assad regime also lacks manpower to launch a successful offensive without effective support from its allies.
There are two questions that will apparently be decisive in the near future: how far will Russia continue to back the Assad regime, and when and where will Turkey further its intervention in Syria against the YPG?