By Christopher Kozak
Key Takeaway: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies in Moscow and Tehran have set the stage for an imminent offensive to complete the encirclement of Aleppo City following the near-total breakdown of Geneva peace talks and an associated ceasefire on April 19. Regime warplanes have resumed a campaign of aerial bombardment against opposition-held districts of Aleppo City. Meanwhile, pro-regime forces and their local partners have intensified their efforts to secure favorable terrain in advance of future operations in Aleppo Province. The current confluence of strategic intent, political opportunity, and tactical maneuvers indicate that pro-regime forces will act within the coming weeks to besiege Aleppo City as previously forecast by ISW. Aleppo City – Syria’s largest urban center and commercial capital – constitutes the primary nexus of opposition strength in northern Syria. If successful, pro-regime forces could deliver a decisive blow to the powerful armed groups in Aleppo City that drives the opposition towards radicalization and a merger with Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.