83% of Syria is outside the control of the government

IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review reports: Territory fully controlled by President Assad’s forces has shrunk by 18% between 1 January and 10 August 2015 to 29,797 km2, roughly a sixth of the country, according to the latest data insights produced by IHS Conflict Monitor.

In a recently televised speech, President Assad admitted it was necessary to focus on holding certain areas of greater strategic importance, while sacrificing others. The key areas which Assad cannot afford to lose include the capital Damascus, the Alawite coastal provinces of Latakia and Tartous, and the city of Homs as the vital connection between them. These are likely to be defended, even at the expense of losing other major cities like Aleppo or Dar’a.

Assad also stated that manpower shortages were the greatest challenge to the government’s war effort. The Syrian Army is believed to have lost around 50% of its pre-war strength of 300,000. Many of the remaining soldiers are very young Alawite conscripts, sent to the front lines with minimal training and low morale. [Continue reading…]

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