Syria Analysis with Videos: The Insurgent Advances Across the Country

SYRIA LIVE COVERAGE / ENDURING AMERICA / Monday, November 19, 2012 at 11:07 | James Miller in EA Middle East and Turkey,

Free Syria Army units in control of an artillery piece and other equipment, reportedly in northern Idlib province, where the base of the Regular Army’s 46th Regiment was located:

The latest summary of the activist Strategic Research & Communication Centre claims significant advances by the Free Syria Army west of Aleppo, near Damascus, and near Deir Ez Zor:

    Rebel fighters took control of the 46th regiment in the western suburb of Aleppo, the last bastion of regime forces in the area and the biggest military base where its artillery and tanks used to bombard the surrounding towns and villages as well as the city of Aleppo. The base also was the main reinforcement’s source to regime forces fighting in Aleppo city. The rebels acquired more than ten military tanks and a number of rocket launchers, heavy artillery in addition to a big quantity of arms and ammunition.    The rebels also seized control of another air defence base in the district of Sayeda Zeinab near Damascus and shot down a helicopter gunship in the East Ghouta district of Damascus province. Fighting also erupted in the central square of Abasyeen while a roadside bomb targeted the head of the state security branch in Damascus but his death couldn’t be confirmed.

    The rebels also continued pressing forward in the province of Deir Azzour, besieging the Deir Azzour airbase and launching a barrage of mortar and rocket shells on it. Clashes also continued on several fronts in Aleppo, Homs, Daraa and Latakia whereby the rebels killed and detained dozens of army soldiers and militiamen in addition to destroying and acquiring a number of military tanks and armoured vehicles.

    The Chief Justice of the court of Deir al-Zour, Ali al-Aoun, announced his defection from Bashar al-Assad’s regime citing the systematic killing of the Syrian people. Aoun, who was also a member of the ruling Baath Party, said that dozens of Syrian officials and party members are going to follow in his footsteps very soon.

Some of the equipment captured from the 46th Regiment, west of Aleppo:

Field artillery piece, reportedly on the base belonging to the 46th Regiment:

Several videos show Free Syrian Army units fighting near al-Hajar al-Aswad, in southwest Damascus. One video shows the FSA fighting near equipment belonging to the nearby air defence base. Another video appears to show a soldier evacuated after having been shot by a sniper.

While the Assad military clearly still has a presence in the area, based on the videos, the base is not entirely under regime control, and the FSA has taken some of the anti-aircraft equipment. Multiple FSA-related social media accounts claim the base eventually fell to the insurgents.

In Idlib and Aleppo Provinces, the Free Syrian Army is expanding its hold on territory and has not suffered a military setback in these two regions in more than two months. The insurgents are no longer lightly armed, accelerating the pace of their advance. In Damascus, the regime still holds the upper hand, and the probability of a sudden collapse of the Assad strength is minimal. However, the Free Syrian Army is still winning battles. Despite intense bombing campaigns by the regime, the FSA is keeping Assad forces on the defensive in some locations. Having to concentrate on the capital, the stretched regime forces have failed to retake Ma’arrat al Nouman, the key in the northwest to Aleppo and Idlib. Assad forces appear to be retreating in the east, with only one remaining airbase in Deir Ez Zor Province. Even in Daraa Province in the south, where the FSA has never been able to muster enough strength to match the Assad regime, the insurgents have mounted attacks.

Then there is the international front. According to German and Dutch Ministers, NATO will be asked today to move Patriot missiles to Turkey’s border with Syria (see today’s Live Coverage), moving a step closer to establishment of a no-fly “buffer” zone in northern Syria. The Patriots are not only effective anti-ballistic missile weapons, but can also be effective anti-aircraft weapons, especially when targeting Syrian helicopters or slower, outdated Russian-made jet fighters.