Meanwhile, Back In Syria …

Hassan Hassan suspects that Assad is poised to recapture Aleppo, which would be a potentially fatal blow to the rebels:

The regime’s recent gains mean that it may be able to strangle the opposition’s strongholds in Aleppo, and threaten its support networks outside the city. Sheikh Najjar is a strategic gateway for the regime into Aleppo’s northern countryside, and if it can capture the still rebel-held Infantry School and Handarat camp, it can secure northeastern Aleppo and encircle the rebels. It can also disrupt the rebels’ supply lines to Turkey, which represent their main source for arms and supplies.

Thus, the rebels in Aleppo find themselves squeezed from all sides:

They are facing pressure from much of the city’s surrounding countryside, the loss of strategic territory on the outskirts of Aleppo, and now regime incursions into the city’s internal districts. The regime has also successfully opened a supply route into Aleppo from the southern countryside, which activists say was one of the key reasons for the regime’s latest advances in the city. To make matters even worse, the Islamic State (IS), previously known as ISIS, is advancing toward Aleppo from the east, from its strongholds in the cities of Raqqa and al-Bab.

Aleppo’s recapture by the regime would be catastrophic for the opposition. From the opposition’s point of view, the city is too big to fall: The takeover of the country’s northern economic hub in 2012 helped the opposition to establish itself as a viable challenge for the regime. If it now falls to the regime, the opposition would have lost four main provinces — after Raqqa, Deir Ezzor, and Homs — to its rivals in the regime and the Islamic State.