With fresh momentum from his army’s victory in the strategic town of Qusair in western Syria, President Bashar Assad’s troops are on the offensive today, Friday, driving rebel forces from the densely populated urban centers, including the cities of Homs and Aleppo.
The Lebanese Hezbollah fighters who joined the battle on the Syrian government’s side were responsible for the unexpected victory. With their support, and with Russia’s commitment to both continue selling Assad arms and maintain its considerable naval presence near Syria, it is now believed that Assad can stay in power for years, with the rebels maintaining control over a portion of the country.
Syrian state-run media was celebrating the capture of Qusair’s as the turning point in the more than two-year civil war. But while no one thinks Assad is going anywhere, it’s also unlikely that the rebels could be forced to abandon their gains across Syria. Several dozen of rebel brigades are currently in control of a huge territory in the southern and eastern regions of Syria, having set up local councils and courts in towns and villages. And the Kurds have secured their independent area in the northeast.
Syria as we know it may be gone forever. Assad will likely continue to preside over a portion of his country, with armed gangs controlling ethnically divided sectors. The Al Qaeda insurgency will continue, as it has done in every lawless part of the world, and Israel will have to start considering Syria its most potentially explosive neighbor.