Syria Hardens Response to Clashes in Damascus
17-Jul-2012 (one comment)

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Antigovernment activists on Tuesday reported a third day of street battles in the Syrian capital of Damascus as rebels fought Syrian Army forces in several restive neighborhoods near the edge of the old city....

There were indications on Tuesday that the rebel fighters, confident of support in some areas of Damascus, were moving into new neighborhoods to test the government’s response....

“Regime forces are threatening to bombard the whole area and telling civilians to evacuate their houses....”

A rebel military commander interviewed in Midan said that enough anti-Assad fighters had penetrated the capital to begin examining just how strongly the government would fight there.

“We know that the key battle is in the capital, in Damascus,” said the 30-year-old commander, carrying an AK-47 assault rifle. “We are preparing for the big battle in Damascus, but it hasn’t started yet. What is going is just to test the power of the regime, its forces.”

The goal is to draw closer and closer to the center of the city, having already fought in the suburbs, he said. The commander said he wanted Mr. Assad to be able to hear the fighting from the hilltop presidential palace. “Bashar is not secure in his palace,” he said.


Regime loses "Battle of Damasus" no matter what

by FG on

The opposition doesn't have to win the current Battle of Damascus militarily.

Obviously one goal is to shake up the "confidence" of the regime and its supporters by showing the FSA can now strke anywhere. while augmenting a growing impression that the regime is going down at an accelerating rate.   Been there, done that!

Just as important: having previous inflicted the "Death of a Thousand Knives" in so many places at once, a lightly armed militia has forced Assad to rely almost excllusively on what most Syrians see as villainous tactics.   Assad is Goliath to the FSA's heroic David.   Regime strategy rarely varies anymore: His military simpy stands back and indiscriminately pounds neighborhoods with heavy weaons.  It finishes up by desmatching plainclothes thugs to slaughter anyone still alive.  The FSA taught him that he can't send troops to do eliminate the enemy close up without facing heavy casualties and increased defections.  That over 60 percent of his military is confined to barracks as untrustworthy greatly limits military options and effectiveness while wearing down "trustworthy" troops.

Assads "shell  the people at a distance" strategy has its downsides as we see in Damascus:  

1. Who gets most of the blame when many civilians will be killed and their homes, stores and property destroyed?  Obviously the side with the most destructive weapons and tactics.  

2. What happens when property owner insists on compensation?   The ruins will remain long after the FSA restreats.  Look for Damascus residents to drive around and look at the damage Assad's tactives inflicted.   Even privileged insiders may flinch at the sight of a favorite cafe in ruins.

3. Damascus residents will have front row seats as Assad's thuggish miltias do their usual thing.  Consequently any previous doubts about "Who are the Bad Guys" will fade.

4. The flow of top CIVILIAN insiders defecting will increase.  The cause (fear or revulsion) will vary with the individual.    

5. Defecting officers and soldiers will swell FSA ranks further.

6. Many previouly neutral or inactive Damascus civilians will join the peaceful protests.