Forces loyal to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime have regained the momentum in the bloody war. The Washington Post conveys analysis to the effect that “there is little doubt that the pendulum is now swinging in favor of Assad,” providing the regime with a range of potential advantages from a relatively stronger negotiating position all the way to limited military victory.
Pro-Assad analysts credit a major restructuring of government forces that has better equipped them to confront the insurgency. The ranks of the conventional Syrian army — weary, depleted and demoralized by defections, casualties and more than a year of continuous fighting — are being swelled by the deployment of some 60,000 militia irregulars trained at least in part by Hezbollah and Iranian advisers.
Most of the members of the National Defense Force are drawn from Assad’s minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, and they are regarded as more reliably loyal to Assad than the rank and file of the majority Sunni army, government supporters say.
The regime has also been able to leverage its air assets to devastating effect, with opposition groups lacking the arms necessary to either destroy the planes and helicopters on the battlefield or to degrade the airports from which they take off and land.
[Photo: FreedomHouseDC / Flickr]