Aleppo, the second largest city in Syria, with three to four million people still there, is about to be strongly attacked and probably completely destroyed in the next few days. Referring to people still living there, is an indication of the fact, that after years of cruel civil war, the population there decreased dramatically, as it has in other parts of the war-torn country. Aleppo is a stronghold of the Sunni rebels, against the Alawite-minoritarian regime of Bashar Assad. It has been besieged for a long time, but despite local and temporary successes in repelling attacks, it is about to finally succumb to far superior forces. Here is where the real story is-what forces? Well, while the simple answer may be, that these are Syrian forces loyal to the Assad regime, or what is left of it, in reality it is not, and this is a fact which already has profound repercussions on the Syrian situation, and more importantly, will continue to have such repercussions for a long time to come.
The build-up of the forces which are about to participate in the onslaught on the rebels and the civilian population in Aleppo is as follows; Alawite militias, the Fourth Armoured Division of the Syrian Army, also an-Alawite force, considered the best in the Syrian Army, 10,000 Lebanese Shi'ites from Hizballah, basically the majority of the Hizballah fighting force, Iraqi Shi'ite militia, from the Harakat Al Nujaba[the Movement of The Noble, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and last, but surely not least, the Russian Air Force. Other Iraq Shi'ite militia, The Shi'ite Popular force is in readiness, in case it will be needed. The meaning of all that is very simple-Syria is unable to maintain its territorial integrity and an effective regime if has to rely on itself. Bashar Assad and the Alawites, even if we add to them other minority groups who support the regime, can claim 30% of the overall population. For all intents and purposes, the country is now subjected to a foreign occupation. The pro-Assad foreigners behave in Syria as if it is their fiefdom. As if to exemplify this point, there are reports about incidents involving Hizballah and Alawite units connected with control over the flourishing drug trafficking business, an ''economic'' sector in Lebanon and Syria traditionally coveted and exploited by the Shi'ite terror group and elements of the Assad regime. Another report about hectic Russian works designed to expand the Russian naval base in Tartus also illustrate the fact, that Assad control even of areas which are not rebel country, is, at best, precarious, if not nominal.
The foreign invasion to Syria includes also a lot of the ISIS cadres there, particularly those who still cling to their hold of Al-Raqqa and its environs, but more importantly that that, the growing Turkish presence in Northern Syria. The Erdoghan Government makes no bones about its desire to establish a Security Zone in Northern Syria [as well as around Mosul in Iraq], and this is a potentially significant complication. The Turks are the only Sunni element of major military and political weight within this overall chaotic Syrian situation. The other elements are all Shi'ites plus the Russians .It is a relatively safe bet, that the day after in Aleppo, will be the day before a collision of interests between the Sunni power -Turkey, and the Shi'ite power-Iran. Iraq and Syria maybe the battleground, but then the real struggle will have much bigger consequences, as it will put to the test the emerging Iranian Shi'ite empire, as opposed the Erdoghan Turkish Sunni interests. With that in mind, the Russian role is also of great interest, and not without risks. For example, is it really the Russian interest to side with the Iranian Shi'ites against the Sunni world? Is it really the interest of Putin to alienate most of his Muslim population, which happens to be Sunni? And there is another problem for ALL the foreign forces, and this is, not only the defeat now of the rebels in Aleppo, and soon afterwards in Idlib, but also the maintenance of their victories over a period of time. Assad and its Alawites will not be able to do it by themselves, so he will have to continue to rely on foreign powers to do it for him. There is another likely dreadful scenario here-a huge massacre against Sunnis and consequent fleeing of many of them out of Syria. After all that we have already witnessed in Syria, this scenario cannot be considered unrealistic.
Be that as it may, Syria , the Heart Of Arabism, as so many there were proud of saying, is becoming a country dominated and partly physically controlled by foreign powers, a sure recipe for years of more instability and troubles.