The Guardian reports: The growing anarchy and stalemate in Syria has brought the country closer to de facto partition, as the overstretched and exhausted army of the president, Bashar al-Assad, retreats in the face of a war of attrition that has sapped its manpower.
The regime’s military has sought to retain a footprint in far-flung areas of the country, from Deir Ezzor in Syria’s eastern desert to Aleppo in the north and Deraa in the south, attempting to consolidate its hold over state institutions and protect its officer corps by retreating in the face of overwhelming offensives and subjecting lost territory to relentless and indiscriminate aerial campaigns.
But, facing a manpower shortage as tens of thousands of young men desert, the military has had to rely largely on local militias as enforcers for the regime. It is ceding territory to rebel fighters and the terror group Islamic State in favour of regrouping in its strongholds to the west, slowly paving the way for partition. [Continue reading…]