Syria Deeply quotes Rafik Hariri Center Resident Fellow Faysal Itani on the strategic importance of the Syrian city of Aleppo to both the government and opposition forces:
Faysal Itani: The progress the regime has been making predates ISIS’s decision to resume their westward offensive from Deir Ezzor and Raqqa, that’s much more recent. Over the past couple of months the regime has slowly, agonizingly been taking surrounding suburbs and neighborhoods and supply liens from the rebels, starting from the east and circling counterclockwise.
Now ISIS is coming to the scene, and despite the fact that the rebels inside Aleppo have tried to launch counterattacks, the regime now has the better of them. With ISIS drawing away resources and exposing the opposition’s rear, they have serious trouble.
Whether that trouble means the regime takes Aleppo, that’s another thing. Aleppo is a large sprawling city, and a lot of it has already been destroyed and will be hard to get. Its fall isn’t imminent by any means. Losing it to the regime, or even to ISIS, would be an intense blow to the opposition. It would be a major strategic and symbolic victory for the regime. I don’t think ISIS is going to take Aleppo, but ISIS is certainly contributing to the other opposition groups’ collapse there.