Socialist Worker

Rebel victories in Syria show up fragility of Assad regime

by Simon Assaf
Issue No. 2327

A string of rebel victories over the past month could turn the tide of the uprising against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

A key battle is taking place in Syria’s biggest city, Aleppo. There it is estimated that fewer than 7,000 regime troops are battling some 40,000 lightly armed rebels.

The regime can deploy snipers, use heavy weapons and its airpower. But it can no longer directly rule the city.

Facing military setbacks, the regime has begun to distribute weapons to neighbourhoods in the hope that they would not go over to the revolution.

In Damascus many of these weapons are falling into the hands of Sunni Muslims suspicious of the revolution.

Meanwhile in the Kurdish neighbourhoods of Aleppo militants allied to Kurdish parties have stepped into the vacuum.

Tensions between rebels and the Kurdish parties have exploded into street battles after rebels swept through Kurdish neighbourhoods to attack regime strongholds.

The majority of Syria’s two million Kurdish people backed the revolution. But the Western-backed Syrian National Congress (SNC) turned down their longstanding demand for autonomy.


Many Kurdish regions have effectively seceded after the regime pulled out its troops. Aleppo is divided into three zones—regime strongholds, Kurdish neighbourhoods and rebel areas.

The cost of the war is pushing Syria into severe social crisis. People face deep uncertainty as winter approaches.

Many had pinned their hopes on a nominal truce for the Eid holidays sponsored by the United Nations (UN). But it quickly broke down.

According to the UN, more than 363,000 Syrians have fled the country. Some 1.5 million are internally displaced and around 2.5 million live in distress. Over one million buildings have been damaged.

Free Syrian Army rebels have overrun important regime strongholds in the north. But the rebels still lack the firepower to drive through their strategic victories.

In the south and the east there remains a bloody stalemate. The capital Damascus continues to face rounds of massacres, car bombs and street battles.

Assad’s regime is running out of men, with many either defecting, surrendering or going home. His troops cannot regain areas they have lost. This is a war of attrition that Assad is losing.

War creates crisis for Hizbollah

The Syrian revolution has a created a rift between the military and civilian wings of Hizbollah. The Lebanese resistance organisation has been vocal in its support for Assad.

But it now faces a growing chorus among its supporters demanding it end its backing of the regime. Hizbollah has been forced to cancel its congress amid fears that this dissent will spill out into the open.

Many dissidents are arguing that Hizbollah should follow the Palestinian Hamas movement and abandon the regime.

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Tue 30 Oct 2012, 18:12 GMT
Issue No. 2327
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