In the year since the Syrian government, backed by Russia and Iran, retook the city of Aleppo from the rebels who had turned the metropolis into a symbol of its revolution, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has managed to secure the most of the territory of their country, but not the support of the United States, who would still want to use their limited influence in the country to expel the Syrian leader.
Assad, accused of war crimes by the United States and its allies, defied expectations that he would succumb to a 2011 uprising by rebels backed by the western states, Turkey and the Persian Gulf, as well as jihadists, who for the year 2013 included the militant group of the Islamic State (ISIS). Later, the United States changed its support to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a mostly Kurdish alliance of Arabs and ethnic minorities fighting against ISIS. With the militants largely defeated by separate campaigns backed by the United States. UU And Russia, Moscow renewed calls to expel its rival international force, whose presence the Syrian government considered illegal.
Related: How did ISIS obtain US weapons? and used them to take Iraq and Syria
Keep up with this story and more by subscribing now
"We believe that after the victory over ISIS there is no need for the US-led coalition to to stay even more in Syria, especially since they had not been invited there, "Russia's ambbadador in Geneva Alexei Borodavkin said on Friday, according to the state news agency Tbad Russian.
"Therefore, we are asking the Americans to pack their backpacks and leave," he added. "But apparently, this is not part of their plans, and this arouses concerns."  Syrian military forces gather near the village of Sawwan, south of Khanbader, Aleppo governorate, on November 19, as they prepare to move into positions occupied by rebels west of Aleppo near the airport Abu al-Duhur military With ISIS widely defeated in the east, the Syrian army has freed resources to secure areas of the west controlled by insurgents, while Russia, Iran and Turkey are trying to negotiate a political agreement for the six-year war. GEORGE OURFALIAN / AFP / Getty Images
Russia organized a direct military intervention at Assad's request in 2015, a year after the United States formed a coalition to bomb ISIS. While the Russian air campaign was broader and aimed at a wide range of rebel groups besides ISIS, the United States had also been covertly supporting the insurgents since 2012, the year when major cities such as Aleppo were confiscated from the government. This support diminished when the opposition faced a series of territorial losses, internecine strife and absorption by jihadist groups, forcing the US. UU To focus on the Kurdish fighters, who had worked with and against Assad throughout the multifaceted conflict.
Aleppo, once the largest city and commercial center, had witnessed intense fighting throughout the war, but in July 2016, the Syrian army put the siege on the besieged city for the second time. Backed by Russian warplanes and pro-government militias, including Shiite Muslim groups backed by Iran, the Syrian army engaged in a fierce battle for the city, with both sides launching accusations of atrocities against each other. The Kurds backed by the USA UU They also participated and finally chose to support the pro-government forces. On December 15, 2016, the Syrian rebels began to evacuate the city and were forced into a surrender that was widely seen as an important turning point in the war.
Opposition fighters who did not lay down their weapons were evacuated with their families to the northwestern province of Idlib, still under insurgent control. In return, residents were also evacuated from most of the Muslim Shiite villages of al-Foua and Kefraya, both under siege by the majority of the Sunni Muslim opposition. The transfer of the rebel fighters was partially supervised by Turkey, which organized its own limited intervention to transport the fractured Free Syrian Army in August.
With the return of Aleppo, Turkey also adopted a softer tone on Assad and agreed to work together with its allies, Russia and Iran, and to negotiate with them in the Kazakh capital of Astana towards a peaceful settlement of the conflict. Amid more victories against the rebels in the western half of Syria, the Syrian army prepared for a long-awaited march to the east, now heavily dominated by ISIS.
Stores are locked in the souk of the ancient city of Aleppo, in northern Syria, on October 1, 2012, while fighting continues in the city between rebel forces and Syrian army troops. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP / GettyImages
The Syrians gather during a celebration in the historical souk of Aleppo when it reopens on November 16. Since the Aleppo government's recapture on December 16, 2016, life has returned to some parts of the city, but others remain in ruins, and rebel groups maintain a presence in the west of the province. GEORGE OURFALIAN / AFP / Getty Images
When the Syrian Democratic Forces broke into the de facto capital of ISIS, Raqqa, in the north, the Syrian armed forces broke through cross-country towards the militants' final fortress of Deir Ezzor in the east. ISIS lost Raqqa in mid-October and then was defeated the following month in Deir Ezzor. Both EE. UU Like Russia they have accused each other of provocations on the battlefield and of contributing to the rise of ISIS instead of fighting effectively against the militants. Faced with the total collapse of the group's self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria, Russia has sought to eclipse the United States by eclipsing its role in Syria and beyond.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Tuesday that the United States believed "that the future of Syria will not include Bashar al-Assad," but added that "it was up to the Syrian people and the Syrian voters to decide ", echoing the traditional position of Russia. The next Syrian presidential elections are scheduled for 2021.
Moscow has also advanced in recent weeks with the main Syrian partner of the United States, the Kurds, who have entered into talks with the Syrian government in the hope of achieving a certain degree of autonomy in the north The Syrian Democratic Forces maintain extensive control over this region, which they refer to as Rojava and where Russia has tried to reconcile Kurdish interests with those of Assad and Turkey, which has accused the Kurdish militias of links with groups Kurdish militants considered by Ankara as terrorist organizations. Russia also recently agreed to sell an advanced weapons system to Turkey and Washington's main Arab ally, Saudi Arabia.
While not declaring Jerusalem the sole capital of a Palestinian state, Russia has also joined international criticism over Trump's decision to name the disputed city the only capital of Israel. Trump's announcement was widely protested in the Middle East.