Things went disasterously for Hezbollah in a recent assault on strategic Al-Quysar and that will have repercussions in Lebanon and Iran. The source of that disaster lies in a change in rebel strategy that also struck a strong but relatively unnoticed blow at Assad's hold on Damascus though its impact will be felt down the road.
According to a report in Debka file, while we all concentrated on glittering rebel gains in the north (two airports, a critical Aleppo neighborhood) the rebels managed something more important that has provided them with the means to target previously safe and highly destructive Assad enclaves. It went unnoticed but stemmed from a key piece of advice from foreign advisors. For that story go to:
OBSERVATIONS: Lebanese Shia are upset over a unexpected Hezbollah casualty rate and blame both the Islamic Republc of Iran and Nasrallah for involvement in what looks like a disaster. After years of freebies, Khamenei called in his chits and pressured Nasrullah to aid Assad in Syria.
If Nasrallah continues to assist Assad, Syria could do to Hezbollah what Viet Nam did to LBJ and events of 2009 and since did to Khamenei. Even if he withdraws, Hezbollah’s stained reputation will linger. Iran’s mullocracy would suffer a public slap in the face (Aid to Hezbollah has never been popular with the majority of Iranians). In Syria Assad would have a tough time launching or maintaining any offenses if Hezbollah withdraws. In the east, Assad’s supply of external help is likely to drop simultaneously as Iraq descends into chaos.
Related item?: See what the rebels captured today in Tall Al Khader in the roundup below.
Breaking News: What looks like WMD had been found--an unexploded bomb full of liquid. Has the Red Line been crossed now.
This video showing the bomb has English subtitles. If this is what it appears to be, even Russia will have a tough time denying Assad has WMD's and is using them. How will Obama, the West and the UN respond?
REBELS ARE WREAKING HAVOC IN SURPRISE COASTAL OFFENSIVE
Two days ago rebels cut the road from Tartous to Homs. Yesterday they reportedly destroyed eight tanks in the coastal area-- five near supposed safe Latakia and three more in the mountains near Khirbet Solas. Armor losses in the Jobar area of Damascus seem to have been high as well. There were many reports on smaller losses elsewhere. Source: Markito0171.
Rebels overran three army posts in Jabal Turkman near Latakia and posted a supporting video. No word on whether they continue to block the highway between Latakia & Jisr Al Shugourah but it seems probable. Somewhere the regime must scrape up the resources to drive out the rebels. It won't be easy in mountainous countries where trees hinder aerial attack. Even if such an effort succeeds it will be at high costs. The rebels will inflict as much damage as possible and prudently retreat only if the situation looks untenable.
Correspondant Janan Moussa, who is accompanying the rebel offensive in Latakia province, writes that especially in the Turkmen mountains, rebels are very close to the coast. “ At point we managed to reach 12 Kms from the coast at Akhbar." she writes.
The rebel offensives in Latakia and Hama area were a response to regime offensives in Damascus and Homs area. East of Hama, the rebels seized several towns yesterday, potentially blocking regime supply/retreat roots with Aleppo though there has been a strong regime buildup in northwest of Homs.
REPORTS FROM THREE DIFFERENT HOSPITALS REFLECT REGIME'S SETBACKS
REVEALING ITEMS FROM THREE HOSPITALS:
Latakia Hospital is no longer open to the public. Entry is limited to injured Assad troops only.
Tartous Military Hospital: A convoy of ambulances arrived at military hospital in Tartous yesterday arriving from battle at highway to Homs.
Rasould Aazam Hospital in Beirut: The hospital handed over the bodies of more than 30 dead Hezollah fighters to relatives after they were killed in Syria. Source for all three: Markito0171.
ANALYSIS: These events suggest a severe rate of combat attrition, along with losses caused by defection. The regime already dredging the bottom when it comes to finding replacements. Minority flight from Syria is growing and will get worse when schools close. Not even Alawites want to die for a Lost Cause. The regime may need to have to post armed “recruiters” close to graduation ceremonies to greet diploma holders as they exit.
TALL AL KHADER (near Daraa): Rebels overran a missile brigade and seized this huge missile launcher:
DEIR AL-ZOR: An ambiguous tweet from Mark above reads, “Rebels advance into division17 base to get control of chemical battalion.” I gather he doesn’t mean the battalion has fallen yet since an accompanying video (not posted) just shows a rebel firing a weapon at an unseen target. A week ago the same division lost an artillery battalion. It provides the main defense for Deir’s airport.
DARAA: Rebels took border outposts 64 & 65 to Jordananan village of Mitayiah
DAMASCUS: Resistance fighters have liberated the road between al-sayyidah zaynab & sidi miqdad (#Damascus countryside. Source Rosely Chomsky.
MAARAT AL NOUMAN: At this strategically located city blocking the main highway from Hama to Idlib, Rebels have formed the 25th regiment under the Tawheed brigade. Video available online. In the last few days it formed three new brigades as well. That brings up the usual question: “How many brigades did the regime form in the same period?”
ALEPPO: Al Jazeerah reports that the rebels destroyed 10 warplanes in seizing one of those two airports.