Rebels seizing initiative in long war for Syria

Reuters reports: Rebel strikes against military bases across Syria have exposed President Bashar al-Assad’s weakening grip in the north and east of the country and left his power base in Damascus vulnerable to the increasingly potent opposition forces.

Rebel fighters, who have taken at least five army and air installations in the last 10 days, are still waging an asymmetrical war against a powerful army backed by devastating air power, and predict months of conflict still lie ahead.

Their tactics are gradually choking off Assad’s forces in the northern provinces of Aleppo and Idlib, as well as the eastern oil region of Deir al-Zor, while in Damascus “there is a sense that the flames are licking at the door”, a diplomat in the capital said.

The steady capture of military installations and arsenals is sapping the morale of Assad’s forces and also ensuring a modest supply of new weapons to relatively ill-equipped rebels whose calls for a no-fly zone — which proved crucial in the Libyan uprising — have been ignored.

Although they have yet to seize control of a single city, or translate their dominance in swathes of rural Syria into “liberated” territory free of air and artillery strikes, rebels say that their increasing prowess on the battlefield and growing armories have finally allowed them to take the initiative. [Continue reading…]

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