I lifted this from an EO comment. That is why it has no paragraph breaks. pl
"Colonel – this is an email I sent in response to a reproach that in opposing Western policy in Syria I was supporting a mass murderer, as proved by Assad’s actions in recovering East Aleppo. It’s too long for insertion in your comments section but it occurs to me that if your committee of experts were able to put together an overview of the Syrian war with particular reference to East Aleppo it might give many of us something to fall back on when responding to such reproaches. “The Syrians had to get East Aleppo back or they’d have had little chance of successfully resisting Daesh in the longer term. But what occurred in East Aleppo might also be viewed as a hostage release operation. The Jihadis were fighting from a populated area. It was therefore difficult to defeat them without civilian casualties. For this reason the Russians kept on agreeing to cease fires or "pauses" in the fighting in order to get the civilians out. In the meantime the Jihadis were able to fire indiscriminately into Western Aleppo causing a number of civilian casualties. The pauses the Russians insisted on didn’t work that well because (1) the pauses were used by the Jihadis to regroup and where possible to re-supply, so to some extent the pauses just prolonged the agony. It’s possibly true therefore that more were killed as a result of some of these pauses than were saved. (2) The Jihadis shot at the civilians as they were attempting to leave. In spite of these drawbacks the Russians kept plugging away with the humanitarian pauses and ultimately it did work. By the end they were getting a lot of civilians out and also getting a lot of the Jihadis to lay down their arms. How many moderate rebels did the same we won’t know. The term “moderate rebel” or “rebel” might indeed have some meaning in the Syrian context but it’s a term so often used by the politicians as a euphemism for Al-Qaeda or similar groups that that meaning is never clear. Bear in mind also that many of those Jihadis couldn't really be called true Jihadis anyway. Aleppo was an industrial area before the war. When Daesh took over East Aleppo machinery and equipment was dismantled and taken to Turkey. In addition the sanctions had damaged the Syrian economy. Those two factors meant that many people lost their jobs. When Daesh came in they had a great amount of money behind them so the jobless who’d stayed often enlisted with Daesh in order to feed their families. One aim of the Syrian government was to get these people off the Daesh payroll and back into Syrian society. That seems to have worked, although you can't be sure some won't be shot in a quiet corner later. Some of the Aleppo population who joined Daesh were, however, true believers. Fanatics, just as the invaders were.