With the battle for Aleppo now under way in Syria’s largest city, the world is watching to see what happens next in the latest violent political standoff in the Middle East.  The nation’s military leaders are promising to defeat rebel soldiers, just as they did in Damascus. But rebel leaders and freedom activists are pledging to prepare for a “long, hard guerilla war” to drive President Bashar al-Assad from power.

Nicholas Burns, Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), writes in The Boston Globe that “the revolution may have reached a turning point…following [last] Wednesday’s bombing and defections of two senior leaders as well as Russia’s ban on future arms sales. Assad is now weak and isolated.”  And he states that “the United States will now be pressured to adopt a much more aggressive effort to push Assad from power and stop his heartless slaughter of innocent civilians.”

More than 100,000 civilians have reportedly fled the country, and those who remain are suffering, according to a Syrian student at the Kennedy School who has remained in close communication with many friends and relatives back home.

“My in-laws fled to Lebanon last week. My uncle’s house was bombed, and luckily no one was there. A cousin of mine lost his 15-year-old son who was killed during a demonstration coming out of school few months back. Several relatives fled their homes with their families and have been moving around aiming for safer grounds,” he says. “Of course this is nothing compared to the suffering of the thousands who have seen their homes demolished and their loved ones killed before their own eyes. Massacres, atrocities and stories of rape and torture are beyond one’s ability to describe.”

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