A man at a site recently hit by what activists said was a Scud missile in Aleppo’s Ard al-Hamra neighborhood, February 23, 2013. REUTERS/Muzaffar Salman
New York Times: For Bashar al-Assad, Winning the Syrian War May Lead to New Troubles
BEIRUT, Lebanon — With the Syrian government making large territorial gains in Aleppo on Monday, routing rebel fighters and sending thousands of people fleeing for their lives, President Bashar al-Assad is starting to look as if he may survive the uprising, even in the estimation of some of his staunchest opponents.
Yet, Mr. Assad’s victory, if he should achieve it, may well be Pyrrhic: He would rule over an economic wasteland hampered by a low-level insurgency with no end in sight, diplomats and experts in the Middle East and elsewhere say.
As rebel forces in Aleppo absorbed the harshest blow since they seized more than half the city four years ago, residents reported seeing people cut down in the streets as they searched frantically for shelter. The assault punctuated months of grinding battle that has destroyed entire neighborhoods of the city, once Syria’s largest and an industrial hub.
If Aleppo fell, the Syrian government would control the country’s five largest cities and most of its more populous west. That would leave the rebels fighting Mr. Assad with only the northern province of Idlib and a few isolated pockets of territory in Aleppo and Homs Provinces and around the capital, Damascus.
But analysts doubted that would put an end to five years of war that have driven five million Syrians into exile and killed at least a quarter of a million people.
Ryan C. Crocker, a veteran diplomat in the Middle East, including in Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait and Iraq, where he served as an American ambassador, said he believed that the fighting in Syria would go on for years because once the Assad government had taken the cities, the insurgents would hide in the countryside.
“The Lebanon civil war is a comparison worth looking at,” he said. “It was long, hot and mean, and it took 15 years to end and it only ended because the Syrians moved into Lebanon and stopped it.”
He added, “With Syria, we’re just five years into it, and there’s no Syria to come in and end it.”
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WNU Editor: With hundreds of thousands dead .... a million wounded .... families torn apart .... and much of the country destroyed .... and it take 50+ years before the bitterness of this conflict is forgotten.