For me the fall of Aleppo, which was pretty recent, a few months ago, that to me captured the immorality of Obama's Syria policy. That was one of our last chances to do the right thing and rethink our strategy and say that there must be a red line when it comes to hundreds of thousands of people killed. And I think one of Obama's legacies will be an erosion of that norm. You are going to have a big chunk of the American electorate, including most of the left, that will look at mass slaughter a lot and think there isn't a lot we can do. That America cannot play a constructive role.
Moscow met the limited American-led airstrikes against Syria before dawn on Saturday with plenty of bluster and heated rhetoric, starting with an uncharacteristically quick response from President Vladimir V. Putin condemning the attack and accusing the United States of aggravating the humanitarian situation. But there was also a palpable sense of relief. The sun was barely up before the Defense Ministry, not famous for speedy reactions, pumped out a statement underscoring that none of the thousands of Russian troops garrisoned in Syria had been threatened by the American, British and French attack and that none of its air defense systems had been mobilized. "It looks like both sides were playing according to their prescribed roles and managed to limit the harm from this kind of confrontation," said Aleksandr M. Golts, an independent Russian military analyst and deputy editor of Yezhenedelny Zhurnal, an online current affairs magazine. "Syria will not be the starting point for some kind of global confrontation."
The front line between rival American-backed and Turkish-backed militias in northern Syria, just eight miles north of Manbij, snakes over mostly barren hillsides and through newly planted olive orchards. It consists of many miles of bulldozed earthworks, with fortified bunkers every few hundred yards.
On Friday, militants of the group seized six villages in advances that forced the evacuation of a hospital and trapped around 160,000 civilians amid heavy fighting. The advances brought the militants to within three 3 kilometers (2 miles) of the rebel-held town of Azaz and cut off supplies to Marea further south.