Syrian opposition forces in Aleppo were fighting to recapture the north western city as Socialist Worker went to press.
This new offensive comes after they managed to break a month-long siege of the rebel-controlled eastern half of city last Saturday.
After breaking through, the opposition forces managed to capture most of the regime’s military complex in the west of the city.
Airstrikes by the regime and Russia have been pounding the area in a desperate attempt to stop their advance.
The siege and bombardment of Aleppo, which was a centre of the popular revolution of 2011, shows the brutality of the regime.
Dictator Bashar al-Assad has only hung on because of Russian intervention. But the sectarian civil war launched by Assad has shattered society and deliberately marginalised genuine revolutionary forces.
The areas not under the regime’s control are run by an alphabet soup of forces. The opposition offensive in Aleppo is being conducted by two groups, Fatah Halab (Aleppo Conquest) and Jaysh al Fatah (Army of Conquest).
The Army of Conquest is a sectarian outfit, backed by Saudi Arabia, which includes the former Jabhat al-Nusra front. The US considers it to be a “power broker” because it is fighting both Assad and Isis.
While al-Nusra grew out of the revolution it tried to stamp its authority in rebel-held areas and dismantle the revolution’s popular committees.
Syria is being torn apart by imperialist rivalries between a host of world and regional powers, including the US, Russia, Turkey and Gulf states. It has become one of several battlegrounds between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
To assert their imperialist interests, these powers are either intervening directly or backing different armed groups.
For instance, Iran backs the Assad regime and Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states and Turkey back the Army of Conquest.
Meanwhile the Syrian National Council (SNC), which is backed by the West, congratulated the rebels on recapturing the city.
The US can see Russia and Turkey edging closer together and is keen to position itself against that.
These shifting alliances between the powers, and their proxies, bring misery to ordinary Syrians.
There is no short cut out of the horror—only independent mobilisations against Assad and all the imperialist powers offer a way out.
Small civil society groups trying to carry on the tradition of the revolution are under attack from armed factions. They are shut out from “peace talks” between the imperialist powers and Assad.
But under the cover of a ceasefire in March Syrians did take to the streets in their thousands. While the revolution has been crushed, its legacy could shape genuine struggles ahead.