The Telegraph reports: The two-year-old uprising against the Damascus regime has broken down into countless battlefields fought over by a “vast array” of different rebel groups.
Rebel fighters may be able to make local gains behind a barrage of missile strikes, but are unlikely to overthrow Assad’s government.
The analysis from IHS Jane’s, a defence consultancy, comes as American military planners have been told to widen a list of potential targets for a more ambitious campaign of strikes.
President Barack Obama is now considering using long-range bombers to hit Assad’s forces harder and ensure they are unable to launch more chemical weapons attacks like the one that killed up to 1,400 people in an east Damascus suburb.
Charles Lister, author of the analysis, said: “The Syrian conflict has seen a vast array of armed groups emerge across the country.
“While it is perfectly feasible that localised insurgent groupings could take advantage of strikes that target government air assets and key artillery positions, it is unlikely that this will lead to a nationwide surge in opposition victories and any perceivable imminent overthrow of the government.”
The US has five guided-missile destroyers and at least one submarine in the eastern Mediterranean, each loaded with cruise missiles.
Planners are also considering bombing strikes from B52s or B2 stealth jets based in the US, which would be able to jam or evade Syria’s air defences.
A hit list being drawn up in Washington is reported to exceed more than 50 possible targets in Syria. [Continue reading…]