So, characteristically, an autocrat inflates his place in history. But, in this case, it’s worth acknowledging that Assad has a point: the significance of Aleppo’s collapse is far greater than its physical territory, its ancient history, and its former splendor. For more than four years, Western governments and the United Nations stood by, watching, as Assad and his backers ostentatiously ignored the laws of war, and residents of eastern Aleppo live-streamed their own extermination. Now, along with tens of thousands of civilians, the credibility of the powerful countries and institutions that could have helped them, but didn’t, lies in Aleppo’s rubble and blood.

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