I am intrigued by a map of Syria and the opportunities it seems to offer. The catch, as I’m well aware, Is that I’ve never been in Syria and could be missing something critical which would make the strategy discussed here unworkable. If so, can someone point it out?

When Aleppo and northern fall to the rebels Assad will have two remaining bases of support: Damascus and the eastern Mediterranean coast. In that case should the rebels go after the coast before Damascus? While still keeping the pressure on Damascus why not attack and seize control of the place where most of Assad’s heavy weapons and best troops are not—in the process grabbing control of the hometowns of his most loyal troops? Given any successful rebel campaign there, the consequences for both sides would be huge.

This strategy exploits a major Assad vulnerabily while temporarily bypassing Assad’s military strength except for harassing and surprise attacks to wear down his troops. It would deprive his forces in Damascus of men, food and equipment. It would increase demoralization as air assets continue to dwindle and troops are tied down in Damascus. Patently, the latter are too limited forces to be in two places at once and remain effective. By contrast the rebels can be everywhere and increasingly control the countryside except for isolated bastions.

Until then the rebels can continue what they are already doing, isolating troops in the North, cutting off their supplies, eliminating Assad’s aerial assets everywhere and encircling Damascus. While moving against his coast assets, sufficient forces should remain ready to seize on adventageious developments in Damascus. Thus, if troops move toward the coast, they weaken defenses in the capital while becoming increasingly vulnerable to blocking forces and hit and run tactics.

The loss of the coast on top of Aleppo would be an immense regime setback, militarily and psychologically to an already tottering regime—one likely to instill panic. It opens Damascus further to encirclement and supply problems of all sorts. The situation would be similar to that of Saigon in 1975. I suspect resistance would crumble just as fast.

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