Momentum Shifts in Syria, Bolstering Assad's Position

(New York Times) Ben Hubbard - Not long ago, rebels on the outskirts of Damascus were peppering the city with mortar rounds and government soldiers were defecting in droves. That momentum has now been reversed. In recent weeks, rebel groups have been killing one another with increasing ferocity, losing ground on the battlefield and alienating the very citizens they say they want to liberate. At the same time, the U.S. has shown new reluctance to provide the rebels with badly needed weapons. Although few expect Assad to reassert his authority over the whole of Syria, even some of his enemies acknowledge that his position is stronger than it has been in months in what amounts to a rump state in central Syria backed by Russia, Iran and Hizbullah. About 60% of the Syrian population lives in government-controlled areas, while the rebels effectively control 60-70% of the actual territory, said Andrew J. Tabler, a Syrian expert with The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

2013-07-18 00:00:00

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