Reports of a coming Aleppo offensive have prompted opposition leaders to warn supporters in the West that it may be now or never to help rebel fighters, who already face arms and ammunition shortages and who are increasingly outgunned by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. The Assad regime is widely considered to have regained the upper hand in the war in recent weeks, especially as Iran-backed Hezbollah fighters have joined the battle on Mr. Assad’s side.
Reports of a looming offensive on Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, are also hanging over this week’s White House meetings on Syria. President Obama gathered his national security team Wednesday for discussions that were to include options for “rebalancing” the war’s momentum, which range from arming the rebels to establishing a no-fly zone to protect rebels and civilians from Assad’s increased use of aerial bombardments.
Obama administration officials continue to insist that the US is determined to help the rebels, but there were no indications that Wednesday’s meeting produced any decisions.
“We are determined to do everything that we can in order to help the opposition,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday, after meeting with his British counterpart, Foreign Secretary William Hague. Noting that Assad is using weapons and tactics against his own people that “challenge anybody’s values and standards of human behavior,” Mr. Kerry said the US is “going to have to make judgments … about how we can help the opposition to deal with that.”