„Victory in Aleppo matters enormously for both sides, but when the dust finally settles in Aleppo, it counts for more in Iran. Securing Syria’s second city and industrial heart is much less to do with re-establishing state sovereignty than about asserting its own influence and agenda in the strategic heart of the region.
Aleppo is a crossroads in Iran’s project to build a land corridor to the Mediterranean coast. It is also likely to be a new centre of Tehran’s geopolitical projection, which has been on open display elsewhere in the conflict.
Iranian officials have directly negotiated with the opposition militia, Ahrar al-Sham, about the fate of the battered opposition-held town of Zabadani, west of Damascus. Iran proposed a swap of the town’s Sunnis, who would be sent to Idlib province, for the residents of Fua and Kefraya, who would in turn be relocated to Zabadani.
‚The Iranians want no Sunnis between Damascus and the Lebanese border,‘ said one senior Lebanese official yesterday. ‚There is a very clear plan to change the sectarian tapestry of the border.‘“ (Martin Chulov: „Russia’s influence has risen but Iran is the real winner in Aleppo“)