It was as recently as May that Aleppo, Syria's largest city, had "so far not experienced the violence and large-scale protests seen in other cities during the uprising," as the BBC put it. The calm in Aleppo and Damascus, the capital, was among the many causes for pessimism that Syria's then year-old and already bloody uprising would ever unseat Bashar al-Assad.
The above video of the total destruction that the fighting has wrought on Aleppo's old quarters shows just how much the war has changed in the last six months. On Monday, for example, the Syrian military began a push into an Aleppo neighborhood now considered a stronghold of Islamist rebels.
The fighting has spread into Syria's largest cities, exposing thousands of civilians to a war that includes Syrian military barrages on urban areas, but also raising the prospects that the fighting might end. Alex Thomson, who has covered Syria for the U.K.'s Channel 4 News, asks if the war could be entering its final phase:
Every day, the president of the country bombs his own people in his own capital.
Yet we know from video released, and other credible sources, that the rebels have seized a number of military bases, acquiring surface-to-air missiles in the process with – crucially – the ability to use them. ...
President Assad has been offered a way out by the UK and others. There are few physical ways in or out of his capital right now. The road to Beirut works. The road south to Jordan appears less secure for the government.
The parameters for a road from Damascus vision and exit appear to be narrowing by the day for the increasingly embattled government and military.