I detest the Assad regime and hate to sound like an apologist for it, but it is a lesser evil than endless war or a chaotic Sunni regime which is unable to defend Christians.
I so much hope that a terrible massacre does not take place in Aleppo. I don't know what is happening but I don't trust the Western media, apart from Robert Fisk (he is on good form here) and Patrick Cockburn.
Most of the Western media paint the rebels as heroes even though many are Al Qaeda and the UN too seems to see the rebels as the good guys. They must have some geopolitical reason.
This is an article in the New York Times about how the regime treated rebels who surrendered at Homs 2 years ago. I read it with great foreboding. I dreaded an account of massacres and was very relieved to read instead:
"Mr. Assad’s forces detained hundreds of young men in the opposition who had agreed to surrender in the Old City of Homs, a centre of the uprising that was eventually bombed and starved into submission. Many were promised amnesty, only to be conscripted into the very military that had killed their families. Residents were eventually allowed to leave to other opposition areas carrying a single bag each. (Fighters could take one weapon.)"
Sounds reasonable to me. I hope nothing worse befalls the rebels of Aleppo.
But on the other hand I just do not know what is happening. An Englishman I know who lived in Syria for many years until two years ago wrote the following to me today.
The reason extremist Islamist groups exist in Syria is simply the Assad regime, there is nothing Marxist or even Baathist other than logos, Bathism and so called Arab nationalism is a cover for the regime's lack of legitimacy, it buys favours with its fellow minorities hence its limited support, of course you prefer secularism but Syria is a Muslim country and a very moderately minded one at that-in fact Muslim Syria is more moderate than Muslim Turkey Damascus is weak, is only surviving with Iran and Russia, while Assad is in power no matter its current gains it will be a breading ground for monsters such as Isis who are more than happy to feed on the mire the regime has created and cannot control, I know you have no sympathy for Syria and fear of Islam but if you think you will be safe in in your bed at night for leaving Assad in power you are mistaken. Fisk has been discredited enough times, he's a drunk and a fool who has simply dug himself in with the regime, is there some truth in his writing, often yes, nothing unknown, are the opposition exaggerating-no doubt, is the western mainstream media failing as well, yes of course, since when was the media unbiased anyway? Syrians do not want an extremist Islamist regime anymore than you do, despite who is doing most of the fighting, thousands of people took to the streets of Syria in 2011 peacefully, the vast majority of those people did not take up arms, in areas of Syria without regime or Islamist militia control civil society groups have proved capable of being exactly that, civil society.
This interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor analyses the consequences of the fall of East Aleppo and quotes a Russian journalist as saying:
“A guy from the Kremlin asked me in May, ‘Why are we not taking Aleppo?’ I said, ‘We can, but it will be a bloodbath. You have to make a serious political decision. And as the extent of that bloodbath sinks into the Sunni Muslim world, there can also be repercussions.”If there is a bloodbath, which I pray there isn't, the short-term victory may be a long term defeat for Russia and Assad, but does the Syrian government know this?