Syrian rebels closing on Damscus

Peter Munson:
The first reports about a major operation by the Free Syrian Army in the capital city of Syria, Damascus are currently spreading throughout social media sources, with a lot of hype. The size or extent of this rebel offensive is not clear at all yet, and this is at least partially due to an FSA-requested blackout on Internet communication about the ongoing combat. But given the FSA’s success inrecent weeks, it is possible to discern certain patterns that are worth commenting on.

First off, the FSA has been gradually escalating its efforts in Damascus for weeks. The rebels tapped lightly at Damascus at first, to see if it was hollow, and they found that it was so the FSA tapped harder, and it became apparent that Damascus was not just hollow, but brittle too. In the belt of suburbs to the south and east of Damascus, the FSA has been making gains for weeks. Marj al Sultan Airbase in Eastern Damascus fell to a rebel assault three days ago. The southern suburb of Darayya has been held by the rebels for weeks, and the sprawling Eastern district of Ghouta has been the FSA’s playground for quite some time, and the FSA has captured at least two air defense bases there in the last few months. The Syrian Air Force has been bombing the suburbs daily in response to these developments. The FSA has proven itself capable of moving and concentrating hundreds of soldiers in the southern and eastern outskirts of Damascus to mount individual operations, and they are apparently relatively well-equipped with heavier weapons like technicals, mortars and MANPADS and various anti-tank devices, with enough ammunition to sustain continuous combat.

The FSA was able to make these advances and receive no major ground counter-offensive from the Syrian Army in response. Assad’s government was only able to respond with airstrikes, which are less and less effective as the FSA becomes better armed with captured air defense weaponry. These recent FSA advances in the suburbs showed that Assad’s government could not defend its own capital effectively. It is not a surprise that the FSA has chosen to spring a major offensive on the capital, now that they’ve probed and found the defenses to be so weak.
... 
Assad's army has been weakened to the point that it cannot offer effective resistance in much of the country including the capitol.  They should be capturing the remaining airfields in order to cut down Assad's last line of defense.  If they take out the air attacks I think there will be little that can be done to stop them from taking the rest of the country.  Their next objective should be rounding up the Iranian and Hezballah proxy forces Assad has imported.

The Washington Post reports that Syria is now under a total internet blackout.  They speculate on teh cause of teh blackout, but the rebel advance maybe responsible.

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