Two important advances by anti-government and anti-IS forces in Syria bode well for the Western side. In Aleppo, contrary to all forecasts, the New Syrian Army and its allies have scored a victory against the forces of Pres. Assad by relieving the siege of Aleppo. Russian air support was apparently not sufficient to ensure a regime victory as was predicted. This means that the ca. 300,000 civilians left in Aleppo who were running short of basic supplies, such as water, food and medicine, can be relieved without making special deals with the Russians and the regime.
One factor in the victory was the realignment of the group called the al Nusra Front, that was an ally of al Qaeda, from its support for the Islamists and renaming itself the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham – the front for the liberation of al-Sham, the historical Arabic name for the Levantine region. This combination of forces proved to be too much for the pro-Assad forces on the ground. However, experts warn that this renaming may be superficial but does not change the ideological basis of the group. Maybe they wanted to try to avoid aerial attacks on them by US and allied air forces.
At the same time, anti-IS forces claimed to have liberated the whole of the town of Manbij that is in a direct route from the Turkish border to Raqqa, the headquarters of IS in Syria. This is an important loss for IS, since it will no longer have this route to bring in supplies and new recruits from Turkey. This victory was accomplished by Kurdish Peshmerga forces with Arab anti-regime forces and US special forces with US aerial support. These victories point to an improvement of the position of the pro-Western forces on the ground.