Before doing any research of my own, I'd like to draw your attention to the best of Enduring America today while adding my own analytical touches. Let's start with Rafsanjani.
Iranian Big Shots most enthusiastic about supporting Assad are the same people who enthusiastically stomped Iranians after rigging the election of 2009. Rafsanjani was not among them. Now he is publicly drawing attention to Assad's crimes and raising embarassing questions, such as: "How can you sweet talk the Gulf States or persuade the West to end to sanctions while simultaneously assisting Assad's crimes?"
Speaking of alienating everyone, the IRCG (or Praetorian Guard) is attacking Saudi Arabia for supporting the rebels while itself intervening in Syria. At the same time the IRCG says it will promote asymetrical warfare on Burger King, other western assets or on neighbors who assist the rebels in fighting Assad.
The IRCG needs to remind itself that if it can blow up customers in a fast food joint or kill foreign military is a night club, opponents can do likewise. Finding candidates willing to carry out matching attacks woud be a cinch these days.
IRI support for Assad has nothing to do with religion and everything to to with a quest for regional empire--one resented by most Iranians who pay for it. Who benefits? A small Assad-like clique who requires distractions abroad and xenophobia at home so as to maximize thir own wealth and power. If Khamenei is Iran's Assad, the Larinjani brothers are its Mahloufs.
EA's opens its "Syria Today" by predicting the regime will attempt to exploit its two-week break until Congress returns by resuming the offensive plns it hoped to launch earlier. I argue these offensives will either go nowhere or--where they do succeed--will be trumped by greater rebel gains, as we already are seeing.
The regime planned to follow up the chemical attack with a large-scale conventional offensive before rebels or the world could react. As Obama came under so much criticism he was forced to take a much stronger position so the regime had to back off for UN inspectors. Ask yourself this: If earlier offensives failed so badly the regime needed chemical weapons for a breakthrough, why should they succeed now when Tomahawk-laden warships have removed the chemical option? Even when the regime has concentrated all available resources on just one small target (see Quysar) it took weeks to prevail while rebel gains in the meantime far outmatched the regime's prize.
For that reason, Assad's generals know they cannot concentrate that can no longer afford to concentrate so much for much force in one area because rebel defenders are skilled and enjoy a "no contest" edge in in motivation. Assad's regular troops fight for the welfare of the brutal Assads and the corrupt Makloufs. His militias fight for the chance to rape, murder and torture. Compare that to what motivates the rebels. After the worst outrage, the word "revenge" in everywhere. Even regime forces are repelled--one reason but not the only one for recent increases in defections. Speaking of strong motives and ineffective offensive campaigns, check out EA's report on Nawa.
THE REBELS ACQUIRE A NICE BOOKEND TO THEIR QUALAMOUN VICTORY
Harakat Ahrar Ash-Sham claims to have seized a a regime-controlled barrier on Route 7, killing lots of regime soldiers. More importantly the barrier is between Jayrud and An Nasriyah [military airbase and a military storage facility just outside An Nasriyah so the victory provides an opportunity for more good pickings in days ahead.
The video demonstrates to perfection the regime's problems in dealing with rebels who can do what Assad cannot, attacking anyplace anytime with boots on the ground. The regime can do the same by air but it is so much less effective. In an open area the dead guys (probably militia) were given an assignment as suicidal as driving a convoy to Aleppo. Rebels destroy multiple checkpoints like this almost daily so why does the regime persist in making available such sitting ducks? Because, as is true of convoys, it has no choice: checkpoints exist to slow down or block access to more critical targets. Their defenders are mere pawns.
Conventional trained military overestimate the regime's strengths by counting jup paper assets. The regime's remaining manpower numbers are both real (impressive) and illusionary (not impressive). If defections had dropped recently it isn't because the regime was down to a loyal core but because many "suspect" troops were kept under guard without weapons and often locked up at nightor evne used as human shields. To count tens of thousands of suspect troops as normal assets is a joke. If they had real combat value, the regime would enjoy far more offensive and defensive capabilities than what we've seen. Since that's not the case, let's look at the three top reasons why the regime is losing.
1) Unlike the rebels, it is far more vulnerable in far more places to the only sort of attack that can take and hold strategic locations: ground only!
2) Unlike the rebels, the regime cannot successfully launch large-scale offensives on multiple fronts simultaneously.
3) Unlike the rebels, the regime is endlessly forced to sacrifice troops and convoys in suicidal locations because it has no choice. Such loses involve RELIABLE manpower, even if second rate and often cost strategic positions as well.
NEWS FROM ALEPPO PRISON: No one is surprised that a former inmate reveals mass graves of murdered prisoners inside the surrounded prison--the reason some locations cannot afford to surrender. Life the pilots and gunners who targeted civilians from Mennegh airbase, these surrounded thugs know their life is over. It will end the moment the prison falls whether they are shot or blown up during the fighting or executed for war crimes afterward. Knowing their crimes were too great they also know there is no possibility of forgiveness. Today the rebel assault continues.
THE REBEL ASSAULT ON LATAKIA IS NOT OVER
EA's "Syria Today" section features three different reports on this. The Institute for the Study of War recently featured an article describing how the regime was able to push back a relative small number of attackers (2,000) without having to draw on forces engaged elsewhere. Mostly it relied on airpower and vastly greater numbers of otherwise inferior militia. The thing to keep in mind is that the new offensive does not have to succeed in terms of taking and holding ground. So long as the rebel tie up large numbers of resources defending the regime's heartland, those resources cannot be employed to solve the regime's problems elsewhere.