The Assad regime has suffered a series of setbacks in its fight against rebel forces to the point that its ability to retain power appears to be in jeopardy, the Washington Post reports. Walter Russell Mead concurs.
Both the Post and Mead cite Robert Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria. He says “we may be seeing signs of the beginning of the end.”
We’ve been warned time and time again that thousands upon thousands are already here.
Wave of terror could result from training, expertise gained in fighting with al Qaeda rebels
Several thousand foreign terrorists, as well as Americans, are joining the Islamist faction of the now-divided Syrian rebels battling the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Continue reading
Fierce fighting has been reported between Syrian troops and rebel forces in the suburbs of the capital Damascus.
Witnesses say it is some of the most intense violence in the area since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began more than a year ago.
Reports from activists, which cannot be verified, say rebels clashed with Syria’s elite Republican Guard.
The violence came as Turkey issued a stark warning to its neighbour Syria over the downing of a jet last week.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told parliament that if Syrian troops approached Turkey’s borders, they would be seen as a military threat.
Correspondents say it is rare for fighting to take place near Republican Guard bases and suggests a growing confidence among the rebels.
The elite Republican Guard, commanded by President Bashar al-Assad’s younger brother Maher, is tasked with protecting the capital.
State TV confirmed the fighting but said dozens of “terrorists” had been killed and many others taken prisoner, including foreign fighters.
It said large numbers of armed rebels had moved into al-Hama and tried to take control of a main road to the west in order to bring in more arms and fighters.
Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP: “This is the first time that the regime has used artillery in fighting so close to the capital.
“This development is important because it’s the heaviest fighting in the area and close to the heart of the capital.”
Earlier, Mr Erdogan spoke of Turkey’s “rage” at Syria’s decision to shoot down the F-4 Phantom last Friday and described Syria as a “clear and present threat”.
“A short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack,” he said.
Full article: Syria crisis: Fierce fighting erupts near Damascus (BBC News)
Should this be confirmed, be ready to possibly hear that all hell is breaking loose in the middle east (and possibly on the homeland) as described in a previous post — and soon.
Unconfirmed first reports from British, French and Turkish sources say British special operations forces crossed from Turkey into northern Syria Tuesday, May 26, and advanced up to 10 kilometers inside the country. The same sources report heavy fighting around the Presidential Guards compound on the outskirts of Damascus.
debkafile’s military sources note that this compound exists to defend Bashar Assad’s presidential palace on Mount Qaisoun overlooking Damascus.
British and Gulf TV stations are again running interviews with dozens of Syrian soldiers taken prisoner by rebel forces and transferred to Free Syrian Army centers in South Turkey. But this time, they are being aired in conjunction with those two developments, indicating pivotal and coordinated military action inside the embattled country, or even the start of western intervention against the Assad regime. Later Tuesday, Gulf military sources confirmed the presence of British special forces in Syria.
Our military sources estimate that the British military drive into Syria, if confirmed, is designed to establish the first safe zone along the Syrian-Turkish border, to be followed by more Western military incursions to establish additional zones of safe asylum in other parts of Syria.
This follow-up action would depend substantially on Syrian, Russian and Iranian (+ Hizballah) responses to the initial stage of the operation.
The reported British incursion, if confirmed, occurred at the tail end of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 24-hour visit to Israel Tuesday morning and would have posed a direct challenge to his repeated warning that Moscow would not tolerate Western military intervention in Syria and actively prevent it. Similar warnings have issued from Tehran.
As for the timing, the double military drive against Assad also occurred hours before a NATO “consultation” in Brussels on the shooting down of a Turkish warplane by Syria last Friday, June 22, which Ankara stated Monday “must not go unpunished.”
The two-pronged operation – the reported British incursion and major clash at the front door of Assad’s presidential palace – would appear to be designed to widen the cracks in his regime and speed its final breakup.
Full article: British forces in Syria, Assad presidential compound said under attack (DEBKAfile)