Syrian rebels are gaining ground and might win, Russia’s Middle East envoy said on Thursday, in the starkest such admission from a major ally of President Bashar al-Assad in 20 months of conflict.
"One must look the facts in the face," Russia’s state-run RIA quoted Mikhail Bogdanov as saying. "Unfortunately, the victory of the Syrian opposition cannot be ruled out."
To be clear, the Russian government remains firmly opposed to the idea of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad losing control of the country, but even his staunchest allies are beginning to see the writing on the wall. We suspect the fighting is still far from over, but doubt many outside of the most devout Assad supporters continue to believe he will be president when the fighting ends.
14:34 // 11 months ago
Syrian forces have fired Scud missiles at rebel groups in the northern part of the country over the last few days, according to senior U.S. officials.
The use of the missiles marks a potentially significant expansion of the civil war, which has already killed more than 40,000 people. It comes as the Syrian rebels have been gaining momentum in their fight to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime.
While the White House hasn’t yet confirmed the reports, it did come up during today’s daily press briefing. “If true, this would be the last desperate act from a regime that has shown utter disregard for innocent life, utter disregard for the lives of its own citizens,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. An unidentified official also called the move “desperate”, noting the increased likelihood for civilian casualties with such weapons, and said their use could be the latest indication that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is afraid of the opposition forces.
15:17 // 12 months ago
The Obama administration has formally designated a rebel group fighting in Syria as a terrorist organization in hopes of marginalizing the Al Qaeda affiliate and reducing its chances of playing a major role in the country should the government fall.
Administration officials blacklisted Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Nusra Front, describing it as a wing of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans during the height of the Iraq war. The Nusra Front is one of dozens of rebel groups that have emerged in the Syrian conflict.
It remains to be seen what effect, if any, blacklisting Jabhat al-Nusra — also known as the Nusra Front — will have on the rebel militia, which has earned the trust and support of many Syrians battling the Assad regime. However, it does prevent the United States from supporting the group, or any others that work with the Nusra Front in the future, and U.S. officials hope it will dissuade others in the region from supporting the group as well.
16:06 // 12 months ago