In fact, what they are in possession of is a lot of rubble: city fighting destroys cities and is horrendous for their inhabitants. In Aleppo, there is little left.
But what has happened is that Putin’s forces have stepped in, with their planes and their boots on the ground. His intervention in Syria has proved decisive, hard though it may be to for us to stomach. Now it is clear that we have backed the losing side.
There is no political appetite in the west – or in the UK – to increase our military resources, so we have to accept that Assad has won.
The best we can do now is to persuade the groups who we do back to call a ceasefire and try to bring an end to this war, which has been raging for more than five years now. The conditions in Aleppo in the past two weeks, as the city was subjected to a Russian bombardment, have become inhumane beyond belief. Hospitals have been flattened and babies taken out of their incubators as doctors try to protect them. About 250,000 people have been left without food or crucial medical supplies. More than 450,000 people are believed to have died in the conflict.
As much as we may hate the idea of Assad being in power, we need to convince people to negotiate so that Syria can be rebuilt. This is essential not only for the besieged people of the country, who have had their lives disrupted for so long, but for the whole of Europe and other countries in the Middle East, which are struggling to deal with a huge influx of refugees.
This is all that we can hope for now.