With the aid of Russian airstrikes, Syria has taken near full control of the city of Aleppo in a major defeat for forces hoping to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Before fighting began in 2012, Aleppo was Syria’s largest city with a population of over 2 million. Some of the first major peaceful protests against Assad’s rule broke out in Aleppo in March 2011. But today the city is in shambles after four years of fighting between Syria and rebel groups.
A turning point in the battle of Aleppo occurred in September 2015, when Russia began carrying out airstrikes to aid the Syrian government. Russia described the fall of Aleppo as a victory against terrorists and jihadists. But the United States has decried the Russian-backed offensive. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, and Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University, debate the issue.
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