Bashir al-Assad regains initiative, new gains against weakening rebels
War will drag on, but Assad may actually win.
Bashir al-Assad is winning his fight against the rebels, bolstered by imports and the use of brutal weapons and tactics, including chemical arms.
The yellow areas represent government control and the blue and green rebels. The red are contested areas. The regime is now controlling and contesting many new areas.
Just weeks ago, Assad's forces appeared to be on the brink of collapse. Rebels were reporting gains in many sectors, and despite a general lack of international support, they fought fiercely and won.
With his back to the wall, Assad has deployed chemical weapons, although in small amounts to better avoid detection, and turned the tide of several key battles. His success has allowed loyalist forces to recapture many strategic locations and to reopen supply lines formerly cut by the rebels.
With a fresh influx of material and a boost to morale, Assad's forces are gaining the upper hand once again.
Meanwhile, the rebels are as factionalized and under-equipped as ever. Rebel forces are chiefly comprised of a motley crew of private militias, each loyal to a single commander. These forces often cooperate and coordinate, however there are disputes between commanders and fighters of different factions.
Al Qaeda is also providing a significant measure of the insurgents to fight against Assad.
It is also believed that rebel forces, not government, committed the first wartime use of chemical weapons in Syria.
In any case, it is the government, not the rebels, who now enjoy the intuitive and momentum in the battle for Syria. Government forces now contest or control more locations and more strategic points than they have in recent memory.
A memo from the German intelligence services was leaked to Der Speigel saying that Assad could now regain power across southern Syria before the end of the year. From there, he could regain other strategic points, slowly crushing the rebels.
To fight back, the European Union has lifted its arms embargo against Syria, and said it will begin sending weapons to the rebels. However, despite this support, the regime will maintain the upper hand so long as it holds heavy weapons and aircraft, and is willing to use brutal tactics, including chemical weapons, to secure victory.
No matter what happens next, the conflict in Syria is set to last for a very long time to come, although it appears the stalemate has finally ended with Assad slowly regaining territory.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
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