String of losses in Syria leaves Assad regime increasingly precarious

The Guardian reports: The Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad is under mounting pressure on several fronts in the war, losing swathes of territory to opposition fighters as well as Islamic State, with strategic resources under its control coming under attack.

Assad’s defeats in Idlib, eastern Homs and Daraa in the south, combined with renewed pressure in Aleppo and Deir Ezzor to the east and the possible loss of gas fields to Isis has left the regime in a precarious position with little choice but to concentrate its forces in its western strongholds, ceding much of the country to the opposition and Isis.

Meanwhile the rebels, buoyed by a series of victories against Assad, face new challenges in governing areas under their control as well as aerial bombardment by the regime and assaults by Isis in an increasingly complex battlefield.

“This is definitely the most strategically weak position the regime has found itself in since early 2013, but it should not be entirely overplayed yet,” said Charles Lister, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center and author of the book Profiling the Islamic State. “What seems to be happening is a redrawing of the power map in Syria, with the regime seemingly more willing to cede territory outside of its most critically valuable zones.” [Continue reading…]

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