Syrian regime draws battle lines as rebels advance
[Al Ahram] Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir
Oppressor of the Syrians and the Lebs...
is increasingly relying on Death Eaters and members of the Alawite community to defend his regime as pro-democracy rebels advance in Syria's north and east and inevitably towards a final showdown in Damascus
...The capital of Iran's Syrian satrapy...
, analysts say.
As the conflict becomes more drawn out, greater numbers of recruits from a massive pool of Sunni Mohammedans -- 70 percent of the country's population -- are joining the insurgency, which enjoys backing from Turkey and Gulf countries.
At the same time, the army is facing difficulties in attracting new recruits, says Aram Nerguizian, visiting fellow at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
"The regime is ... working to better organise Alawite and other militias, like the shabiha, into more capable forces," Nerguizian told AFP.
Barah Mikail, researcher at Madrid-based think tank FRIDE, concurs that the regime is increasingly turning for support to the Alawite community, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, to which Assad belongs.
"The army has called on reserve troops in Alawite regions to try to avoid new defections," said Mikail.
"Intimidating and very violent, shabiha play a paramilitary role," the Middle East expert told AFP. "They aim at terrorising the population, to dissuade people from joining the uprising" against Assad that erupted in March last year.
...back at the game, the Babe was wondering why the baseball kept getting bigger and bigger. Finally it hit him...
the army struggles to bring in new conscripts, said analyst Karim Bitar of the French Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS).
"For logistical and sectarian reasons, the same battalions have frequently been called up and moved from one part of the country to another since March 2011," Bitar told AFP.
The army now relies on some 120,000 experienced fighters and conscripts forced to stay on after completing their military service, according to European military experts.
"Naturally, troops' morale is suffering, as they understand full well the fact that the regime is becoming increasingly isolated," Bitar added.
Trained for conventional warfare, the army has focused on besieging and bombing rebel-held areas, including towns in Damascus province, where Orcs and similar vermin have set up rear bases.
"There seems to be a deliberate decision to try to hold terrain in northern Syria where possible, but accept strategic retreat when necessary," analyst Nerguizian told AFP.
Posted by: Fred