Has the Assad Regime "Won" Syria's Civil War?

(American Interest) Michael Eisenstadt - Syria's bloody civil war may be far from over and its military gains may be more tenuous than they appear. Pro-regime forces now control more than 50% of Syria's territory and between 1/2 and 2/3 of its population. Yet the regime's hold on many areas remains uncertain due to a lack of loyal and competent troops. The Syrian Army has perhaps 10,000-20,000 troops available for offensive operations. The rest of the Syrian Army - perhaps 100,000-150,000 men under arms - include poorly trained conscripts and volunteers of all ages, as well as militia auxiliaries responsible for local security. Much of the regime's offensive combat power is provided by Hizbullah (6,000-8,000), Iran (2,000), Shia fighters from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (10,000-20,000), and a Russian ground and air contingent. Many areas are currently controlled by foreign pro-regime forces, as well as "reconciled" rebel groups and tribes whose loyalty to the regime is conditional. Moreover, overstretched pro-regime forces reliant on exposed lines of communication that run through majority-Sunni regions are vulnerable to guerilla attacks. The writer is director of the Military and Security Studies Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

2018-05-22 00:00:00

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