Syrian army appears to be losing battle of time
A top Syrian cleric's appeal to young men to join the army raised the question of whether President Bashar Assad is running out of soldiers, prompting a pro-government newspaper to reassure readers on Tuesday that the military can keep fighting insurgents for years to come.
Syria's civil war, with its large-scale defections, thousands of soldiers killed and multiple fronts, has eroded one of the Arab world's biggest armies, with pro-Assad militias increasingly filling in for troops. But while the rebels have scored military and diplomatic gains, the regime is far from its breaking point.
Assad appears to have stopped trying to retake all of the rebel-held areas, lacking the manpower to do so. But his forces have pinned down opposition fighters with artillery and airstrikes, while repelling rebel assaults on the capital of Damascus and other regime strongholds.
In this scenario, the regime can hang on for months, said Joseph Holliday, a Syria analyst at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. “The opposition is definitely ascendant, and Bashar is going down, (but) it's a question of time,” he said.
Syria's troop strength moved into the spotlight with a call for a general mobilization by Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun, the country's top state-appointed Sunni Muslim cleric and Assad loyalist. He told state TV on Sunday that Syrians must rally to defend their country against a “global conspiracy.”
The pro-government al-Watan newspaper dismissed speculation that the mufti's appeal was a sign of attrition among the troops. The army is “fine” and troops “have been waging since for the past two years with unprecedented valor and courage,” the newspaper said in a commentary. The army can keep fighting for years, it asserted.
Experts say precise figures on rebel and regime troop strengths are difficult to come by. The Syrian military does not release detailed information and last year stopped publishing data on soldiers killed.
Rebel groups often operate locally, with considerable autonomy, despite attempts by Syria's main opposition group to introduce a centralized military command. The uprising against Assad began two years ago, initially peacefully. In response to a regime crackdown, it turned into an armed insurgency and finally, last summer, into a full-scale civil war.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Strike on crowded Gaza area kills 16, wounds 150
- Reports include ‘aliens’ as origin of Russian holes
- Gaza’s only power plant taken out; utility official says attack ‘catastrophic’ for 1.8 million
- ‘Clear-cut’ path made to jetliner
- Karzai’s kin killed in suicide bombing
- Ebola claims hero doctor in Sierra Leone
- Real-life ‘Ratatouille’ invade garden of Louvre
- PLO offers truce as at least 100 killed in Gaza
- Sophisticated weapons in hands of rogue groups make commercial planes targets
- Kurd elected president of Iraq
- Pakistani mob attacks minority Muslims, suffocates 3 over Facebook rumor