On Feb. 3, the Syrian army and its allies dealt a strategic blow to Ankara when they cut the land route between Aleppo and the Bab al-Salameh border crossing with Turkey in the Turkish province of Kilis. Keeping this route to Aleppo open had been of vital importance for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu who, keen to topple the Damascus regime since 2011, have used every means at their disposal short of sending troops to Syria.
The route was crucial to Turkey for two related reasons. First, the fighters, weapons, munitions and various supplies that flowed via this route to Aleppo allowed the rebels to sustain their military presence in Syria’s most populous city and therefore preserve their political ambitions in the conflict. With the route now cut, the Syrian regime’s expected siege of Aleppo means the opposition forces' likely defeat.