Assad Is Not "Winning" & Is Getting Desperate. Der Spiegel
Last edited Mon Sep 2, 2013, 04:16 PM - Edit history (1)http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/situation-in-syria-deteriorates-as-west-looks-for-answers-a-919733-2.html
Yet, it is perhaps irrelevant who gave the order since the entire Syrian leadership is reportedly afraid that the defense lines will collapse. These fears have been fanned by a number of developments over the past few weeks: the unauthorized withdrawal of previously Assad-loyal militias to their Alawite villages; the feared rebel offensive; the declining morale of the regular troops; and the rising losses without military victories to show for them.
The poison gas attack was probably carried out by the 4th division of Assad's army. Experts and defectors agree that this is the only unit that possesses launching devices for chemical weapons. Immediately following the chemical attack, it shelled rebel positions with conventional artillery -- but was unable to take a single location.
Instead, the division lost at least seven tanks in the Damascus neighborhood of Harasta alone. A rebel video provides an insight into the lack of personnel among the elite division: Two crew members flee a burning tank -- but they are wearing no uniforms, no helmets and no radio gear. Shabiha militia members have apparently been forced to fill the gaps in the ranks of the army.
The images are highly significant and don't correspond with reports that Assad has strengthened his military position. Military experts and intelligence agents had been circulating this theory for months, ever since the battle for control of the small town of Qusayr in early summer. Under the leadership of over 1,000 fighters from the Shiite Hezbollah militia from Lebanon, Assad's troops were able to recapture Qusayr.
Nevertheless, the myth of a military turning point in the regime's favor has persisted since June. This has also hampered the search for motives for the poison gas attack: Many observers wondered why Assad should use chemical weapons if he is winning the war already. In actual fact, the situation has been difficult for the regime's troops for quite some time now. Since the spring of 2012, many of the army's positions have only been supplied from the air because all land routes are under the control the rebels.
Real story right there. If/when Assad goes, there will be blood there. It'll be seriously unphotogenic.
Meantime, Twitter is alive w/reports of new defections. Desertion all over the place.
They or the UN will keep the rebels at bay. As good a reason as any, I guess?