Censor.NET reports citing Reuters.
More than four months of Russian air strikes have stabilized the government of President Bashar al-Assad, the Kremlin's closest Middle East ally, helping his forces find momentum on the battlefield.
But the names and strategic significance of the towns and villages they have recaptured have failed to electrify a Russian public more worried about falling living standards. Nor has the Syrian army - backed by Russian air power - yet delivered a major victory that Russia can sell to the wider world as proof of its military might and growing Middle East clout.
Retaking full control of Aleppo, Syria's biggest city before the five-year war, would change the narrative, say diplomats and analysts, bringing Putin a step closer to his preferred end-game which envisages a Russia-friendly Syrian government that allows Moscow to keep its naval and air base there.
"So far we've heard reports of government forces gaining ground here and there and there have been a few notable successes," Dmitry Trenin, a former colonel in the Russian army and director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, told Reuters.
"It would be a useful distraction and a show for people," said Stepan Goncharov, of independent pollster, the Levada Center, saying state media had in the past used Syria to stoke anti-Western feeling and to reinforce the idea that Russia is again a great power. "Their trick is to remove themes that stir social anxiety and replace them with ones that unite," said Goncharov. "A military victory (in Aleppo) would be a great power moment, a symbol of military might, and would be used to increase support for the authorities."
He said the last time Levada asked, in October, they found that 72 percent of Russians had a broadly positive opinion of Russian air strikes in Syria, but that the subject had since taken a back seat to stories about the economy and what the Kremlin was doing to navigate the economic crisis.
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