How the Game Is Played:
Rebels launch an offensive that accomplishes most or all limited objectives then slack off while launching a surprise offense (or two) elsewhere. The regime then bombs the daylights out of the previous site but never recovers whatever it lost. This is the complete opposite of what happens to regime offensives, surprise or not. They end either in disaster (Khanassir/Al Safira) or in quagmire (see Damascus suburbs in every direction). If something is taken (see Ariha, Khanassir) it soon slips away.
These rebel offensives are never intended to complete victory unless rebels got lucky). They are intended to wear the regime down and it is working. Every rebel strategic victory constitutes a regime strategic loss, often accompanied by unaffordable manpower attrition.
Deir Ezzor had been relatively quiet for weeks until yesterday. No one, especially the Alawite regime, was paying it much attention. Yesterday the rebels managed to take a good chunk of the city away from Assad and he won’t get it back. Another long silent battleground—the AL Raqaa area—is also showing signs of coming to life. For a long time, as elsewhere, rebels have been content to let the battered 17th division and Tabqa airport slide. I’m beginning to think the rebels may be entering a new phase—eliminating many of these holdouts and taking or incapacitating many vulnerable airports—as a preliminary a Landslide Offensive to come down the road at a time to be determined by the rebels.
I can’t predict when this lead will be posted. Once that occurs I’ll post updates as further research or analysis is completed.