The Daily Beast reports: U.S. intelligence officials have previously assessed that the Assad regime is getting significant backing from Iranian ground forces, and that the support continues to grow, but that it’s not necessarily translating into victories. They think that while some tactical swings along the frontline might favor Assad’s regime in the near term, many provincial capitals occupied by his army remain under threat.
That may help explain Assad’s decision to be seen publicly aligning with Putin, who has supplied essential air cover to forces on the ground. The official characterized Assad’s Moscow visit as a publicity stunt that doesn’t bode well for the dictator’s future. “It only reinforces the notion that Assad has lost control of his country, and is now firmly under Putin’s thumb,” the official said.
“Should the regime’s offensive fail to dislodge opposition elements or suffer major setbacks, the blame will land on Assad’s shoulders,” the official added. “Putin is not one to bet on a losing horse, and Assad’s track record in Syria suggests the regime faces long odds of a military victory. At some point, Putin will have to decide on how far Russia will go to support one man.” [Continue reading…]