WHY IT MATTERS: Rebel-held Aleppo on the brink of collapse

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With rebel defenses crumbling in eastern Aleppo, President Bashar Assad is on the brink of regaining full control of Syria’s largest city and one-time commercial center. Holding the city is seen as key to overall victory in the Syrian conflict, and a defeat in Aleppo would be a crushing blow to the rebels.

Here’s why it matters:

THE ISSUE

Aleppo has been a crossroads of civilization for millennia. As one of the longest continuously inhabited places, its Old City was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites in 1986. The city was one of the last to join the uprising against Assad’s government in June 2012. It has been…

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