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Syria Rebels Gaining Ground but Regime Still in Control

Syrian rebels have captured several important objectives over a few days of intense fighting. Liz Sly reports for the Washington Post:

In the past week, the rebels have seized five important military facilities in the north, the east and near the capital, Damascus, capturing sizable quantities of weaponry, further isolating remaining government positions and freeing opposition fighters to focus on attacking Assad’s forces. . . .Videos released after the capture last week of Base 46, a major facility to the west of Aleppo, showed fighters acquiring tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery and surface-to-air missiles as well as large quantities of ammunition. In a video released overnight Saturday of the assault on the Marj al-Sultan air base outside Damascus, fighters are seen using a tank to storm the perimeter. They claim to have destroyed eight aircraft, including three helicopters and two MiG fighter jets.

The rebels also took over a hydroelectric dam on the Euphrates River in northern Syria today, capturing a lot of ammunition which for some reason had been stockpiled there. Meanwhile, regime aircraft attacked refugee and rebel-held areas in the north, reportedly targeting rebel equipment depots, and dropped a cluster bomb on a playground in Damascus, killing almost a dozen children.

The Assad regime might be losing its grip on some parts of the country, especially in the north, where stubborn loyalist troops are surrounded by rebel fighters at a number of locations—but it is no closer to collapsing. Reports suggest Assad still commands the loyalty of about 100,000 troops and can deploy a variety of heavy and chemical weapons. If he wants to, Assad can make this war a lot worse, and he seems to have everything he needs to keep it dragging on for a while.

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