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"Catastrophic" is the word several U.S. officials use privately to discuss the latest developments in Syria, in which a savage Russian bombing campaign has brought Aleppo near the point of surrender.U.S. intelligence officials describe a Russian campaign to break the Syrian opposition's will, much as the U.S. and its allies did in the incendiary bombing of German and Japanese cities in World War II.U.S. analysts fear that Aleppo may fall in a few weeks, marking a significant turning point in the war.I witnessed that spirit four years ago this month, when I visited Aleppo as it was being shelled, even then, by the regime.U.S. officials see two possibilities if Aleppo surrenders. Opposition fighters could disperse and harass Syrian and Russian troops behind the lines or they could concentrate forces in the rural areas of provinces such as Idlib, Homs, Hama and Deraa where the opposition is already strong. A U.S. official says Nusra has been the "main beneficiary" (other than the Assad regime) of Russia's onslaught.If military options are risky in Aleppo, what about humanitarian assistance?
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