Aleppo has fallen.
Aleppo has fallen and has been dragged into a horrific future filled with rivers of blood, sexual violence and untold misery now that it is once more under the full control of the terrorist Bashar Al-Assad and his misbegotten dynasty. The fall of Aleppo now only needs a performance from the Russian orchestra to nail home the victory that state terrorism – backed by virulent Iranian-sponsored genocidal sectarianism and Russian imperialism – won today.
Aleppo has fallen, and this was thanks to the dithering, weakness and pitiful actions of the so-called "Friends of Syria". The US under the impotent Barack Obama failed to stop the Assad regime from using chemical weapons, while Secretary of State John Kerry flip-flopped during negotiations with his increasingly cocksure Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Meanwhile, Turkey, which must be praised for granting refuge to over three million Syrians since 2011, must similarly be condemned for failing to move beyond the small sandpit in which the US and Russia allowed it to act. Realising that NATO was not interested in looking after its security, Turkey instead began to cut deals with Russia's 21st century Tsar, Vladimir Putin. Putin allowed Turkey to secure its borders from Daesh and Kurdish terrorists, on the condition that it would have to reduce significantly its support for the Syrians seeking a future that does not include the Assad family.
How did that end up? Turkey became singularly obsessed with useless stretches of territory such as Jarablus and Al-Bab, the latter being mere kilometres from besieged areas of eastern Aleppo. Despite giving a speech in November saying that he wanted to topple Assad, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government attempted to parley with Moscow, but otherwise did nothing to prevent today's calamity in Aleppo.
The oil- and gas-rich countries of the Arabian Gulf looked on, hoping beyond hope that their long-time ally and champion, the US, would actually act like a superpower and impose new conditions on the ground to save the Syrian Revolution. Clearly, their hopes were dashed, to say the least for the people of Aleppo themselves who have spent years screaming for help only for the world to ignore them.
Like Saudi Arabia's unilateral intervention in Yemen to prevent Iranian expansionism, the danger faced by the Syrians in Aleppo was one of those times that they should have ignored Uncle Sam and did what they had to do for their own national security and interests. Instead, the Arabs looked on, hoping that by throwing money at the situation it would eventually resolve itself. It turns out that the only way you can stop helicopters dropping chlorine gas-laced barrel bombs and fighter jets is by providing anti-aircraft capabilities to your apparent allies. Really? Now who would have thought it? With friends like these, who needs enemies?
Aleppo has fallen, and with it any notion that democracy is something worth fighting for in the Middle East. If the Sisi coup in Egypt was a deathblow to the idea that democracy is something that Arabs should concern themselves with right now, the collapse of Aleppo and with it the hope of holding territory as part of a state-in-waiting while Al-Assad was being excised is the coup de grace to an already flailing, battered and bleeding idea.
Aleppo has fallen, but the Syrian people and their indomitable spirit have not. Lost land can be recovered, and murderous tyrants can continue to be violently opposed in self-defence as enshrined in the natural laws of mankind, in addition to the weak mechanism and façade of justice we call "international law". That same international law did not protect Syrians from Al-Assad's gas attacks, but the use of force against such a terrorist – supported by Iranian state-sponsors of terrorism and backed by Russian friends of terrorists – is moral, legitimate and legal.
Aleppo has fallen, but the ability to fight Al-Assad and his friends is alive and well. The Syrian opposition must make any gains made by the terrorist Assad extremely costly for his regime, and must make Syria completely ungovernable. As I have argued previously, the Syrian opposition must now revert completely to asymmetric guerrilla warfare, and to ensure that the countryside and roads linking major regime-held cities are nothing more than Badlands that cannot be traversed. After all, Russian airpower will be limited in what it can do against guerrillas who focus on hit-and-run attacks targeting the very arteries of cities that are now under occupation by Al-Assad.
Meanwhile, Assad regime terrorists, Shabiha death squads and units from Iran's Shia Liberation Army, would all have to engage the Syrian opposition on the ground, with minimal air support. This would mean that the war would have to continue for many more years in a draining, protracted struggle similar to what Chairman Mao accomplished in his quest to create Communist China; ironic, really, given China's involvement in the Syrian bloodbath.
Following the Caesar files exposing the mass murder and torture in the Assad regime's Holocaust Factories — for which read "prisons" — there can be little doubt as to the fate that awaits the residents of Aleppo and any other town or city recaptured by the regime. As such, and quite legally under international law, all the state security apparatuses involved are legitimate targets for guerrilla attacks, though civilian losses should be avoided at all costs. After all, the Syrian opposition should aim to liberate these people, and there is little use in doing that if indiscriminate tactics are adopted which simulate the regime's own callous disregard for human life.
Guerrilla tactics that can appear everywhere and anywhere at any given time and place would make Al-Assad's victory today exceptionally hollow. Just when he thought he had won the war, he and his Russian and Iranian masters get dragged into a quagmire that will annihilate their blood-money driven economies and impose on them such losses that it will make the US defeat in Vietnam seem nothing more than a tolerable mishap.
Aleppo has fallen, but it is time to make sure that Al-Assad, who has already destroyed Syria, cannot even govern the rubble that he left behind in his insane plan to make sure his family is never removed from power after almost half-a-century of pillage and rape. It is time to make sure that the Assad regime is whittled down and ground down, no matter how long it takes and how many the sacrifices that must continue to be made.
Aleppo has fallen, but this is not over. Long live Syria, and long live the free-thinking and brave Syrian people.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.