EA Worldview‘s James Miller writes: [A]t several points in this conflict there have been collections of bad data that suggested that EA, and the media at large, was missing a trend. For several weeks there has been a growing number of rumors, low-quality Youtube videos, and eyewitness reports that suggested that not only was the FSA winning in Deir Ez Zor, Lattakia, and Aleppo, but it was on the brink of major victories in all three provinces. Similarly, there is a growing body of inconclusive evidence that the FSA is surging in Daraa province, and was increasingly effective in and around Damascus. While individual reports of this nature may or may not each be true, the trend lines were beginning to look clear.
For more than a week, however, that body of evidence has been harder and harder to dismiss as noise and rumor. With well documented victories yesterday, the FSA has encouraged us to post headlines that we have been sitting on for a long time.
Two trends are clear – The Assad regime is retreating, pulling many units towards the capital and leaving its garrisons to fend for themselves – and they are fending poorly. Meanwhile, the FSA continues to ratchet up pressure on the capital, and despite the fact that Damascus is now the highest priority of the Assad military, those advances are accelerating.
Is it a state of collapse? Perhaps it’s too early to say, and we’re not predicting a sudden collapse even if that were true. Regardless, it is my conclusion that we have been too cautious in estimating the strengths of the insurgency, and this is saying something because we have been consistently more hawkish (and I would argue more accurate) than many media outlets who assess the strength of the Syrian insurgents. [Continue reading…]
The Associated Press reports: Activists say Syrian rebels have captured a hydroelectric dam on the Euphrates river in the country’s north in a strategic victory that followed days of fighting.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the Tishrin Dam, near the town of Manbij, fell to the rebels before dawn on Monday.
Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Observatory, says the dam supplies several areas of Syria with electricity.
The rebels have been making strategic advances recently. On Sunday, they briefly captured a regime helicopter base outside Damascus.
Earlier, Al Jazeera reported: Opposition commanders in the Syrian city of Aleppo have voiced their support to the Syrian National Coalition, a day after a video emerged showing fighters from at least 14 brigades announcing their rejection of the opposition bloc.
The powerful Liwaa al-Tawhid Brigade, along with the Aleppo Military Council and Transitional Military Council, in a video uploaded on YouTube on Tuesday, said they would co-operate with the newly formed opposition body, but called for greater representation in it.
They also said that the earlier statement by some local commanders rejecting the coalition was due to “the marginalisation of the revolutionary forces on the ground”.
“We call on [the coalition] to increase the representation of the revolutionary forces and to activate their role in the coalition’s offices and apparatus,” Tuesday’s statement, read by Abdel Qader Saleh, the head the Liwaa al-Tawhid Brigade, said.
The brigade, formed in July, is said to have at least 10,000 fighters. It has been credited for the opposition’s control of vast areas in Aleppo province.
In the earlier video posted online on Monday, a fighter could be seen reading out a statement that said: “We, the groups in the city of Aleppo and its suburbs, completely reject the conspiratory project which was named the National Coalition.”