As Aleppo Braces for a Bloodbath, Syria’s Regime is Far From Beaten

Rebel attacks on Syria's two key cities had raised expectations that Assad was about to fall, but those may have been the Syrian equivalent to Vietnam's Tet Offensive

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BULENT KILIC / AFP / Getty Images

Syrian rebels hunt for snipers after attacking the municipality building in the city center of Selehattin, near Aleppo, on July 23, 2012, during fights between rebels and Syrian troops.

The ancient and storied city of Aleppo is shaping up to be the next great bloodbath of Syria’s 18-month rebellion. The regime is concentrating its elite forces, and their armor, artillery and air support, for an all-out assault to recapture those parts of the city seized by insurgents. The outcome will likely mirror last week’s battle in Damascus, where President Bashar al-Assad’s forces eventually forced the rebels to retreat. Not even the rebels are expecting to be able to hold the city against the regime’s overwhelming firepower, and its determination to stop Syria’s largest and most prosperous city falling to the rebellion.But Aleppo will not be the final or decisive battle of the war. Instead, it will more likely confirm a strategic stalemate, in which the regime is unable to destroy the rebellion, but the rebellion lacks the military power to destroy the regime. There may yet be many weeks and months of carnage ahead.

Having watched Assad bludgeon his rebellious citizenry for the past 18 months, the international media is understandably impatient to see the bloodletting brought to an end with the regime’s collapse. Perhaps it was that impatience — or the audacity of a rebel offensive in the capital, that included a devastating strike on the regime’s key command center that killed four of Assad’s top security aides, followed by the opening of a second front in Aleppo — that shifted the tone of coverage to one anticipating the regime’s rapid demise. But after the initial shock of last week’s events in Damascus, the regime regained its footing and systematically, and brutally, drove the rebels out of most of the neighborhoods they had seized in the capital. The outcome in Aleppo may be similar.

(PHOTOS: Chaos and Killing in Syria: Photos of a Slow-Motion Civil War)

“Aleppo is a complex city,” a local rebel supporter identified only as Amir told the Guardian. “You can see people support the regime, those who are fearful and those who are pro-revolution. The middle and upper classes don’t want the rebels to come in. They want everything to be business as usual. No one can can predict what will happen but there is unhappiness that the rebels have brought all this firepower down on Aleppo.” By that description the rebels may have neither the firepower, nor the consensus within the city, necessary to hold it in the face of the counter-attack expected Friday or Saturday. Despite the many setbacks it has suffered and the clear sense that it is beyond Assad’s power to restore the status quo ante, his regime is far from beaten. Nor were the rebels necessarily expecting that their assaults on Damascus and Aleppo marked the final offensive.

The 1968 Tet Offensive, staged by the Vietcong revolutionaries against the U.S. and the local allies it was propping up in Vietnam, bears consideration here. As the lunar New Year dawned on January 30, 1968, tens of thousands Vietcong insurgents mounted simultaneous surprise attacks on command and control centers in more than 100 villages, towns and cities, including dramatic attacks on six key command centers (including the US Embassy) in South Vietnam’s capital, Saigon. They took control of the old imperial capital of Hue for close to a month, as well as besieging the U.S. base at Khe Sanh for three months. Although the Vietcong suffered massive casualties and were forced to yield those gains, the operation negated Washington’s triumphalism and convinced Americans that the Vietnam war was unwinnable. The offensive was in no sense a final assault on the bastions of U.S. power and the allies it propped up in South Vietnam. Their purpose, instead, was to send a political message: the U.S. and its allies would never eliminate the Vietcong.

(PHOTOS: The Victims of Assad)

There are, of course, countless differences between the situation in Syria today and what transpired in Vietnam 44 years ago, but the Tet analogy may still hold: Syria’s rebels have proved in recent weeks that the regime will not be able to restore its grip over all of the country, or to crush the rebellion by force. For many Syrians, that signals the inevitability of a change of regime — a realization that will convince many of Assad’s less committed allies to switch sides or seek alternatives. So, even if they haven’t brought the regime to the brink of collapse, the rebel offensives in Damascus and Aleppo have dramatically weakened the regime, forcing its Syria and foreign allies to begin reassessing their options.

Western and Arab powers that have backed the rebellion are increasingly mindful of the dangers of Syria (and its Arab neighbors) breaking up into a bloody civil war if Assad’s regime is precipitously toppled, and of a protracted war that might see the leadership of the rebellion passed to more radical elements. They’re also aware of the lack of legitimacy and authority on the ground enjoyed by the exiled leadership of the Syria National Council, which they have tried, largely in vain, to cultivate as a credible government-in-waiting. Hence reports that Western and Arab powers are putting less faith in the SNC and are considering proposals to engineer an outcome in which Assad is replaced by a general or generals acceptable to the opposition, but capable of holding the security forces together and overseeing a military-led reform along the lines of Egypt’s transition.

There’s also reportedly a belief among Western officials that  such schemes might be more appealing to Russia  than sticking with Assad. Such schemes seem wildly improbable for all manner of reasons, right now, but the fact that they’re even reportedly under consideration is a reflection of a growing awareness that the current military stalemate isn’t going to be broken any time soon.

 MORE: Russia and Syria’s Assad: The End of the Affair?

18 comments
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omegafrontier
omegafrontier

An absolutely misrepresentation of the Tet Offensive.  First of all, they didn't capture Hue for month, the first ARVN division fought them from door to door since day one and eventually drove them all out.  It was not much mentioned in American media that the ARVN division secured Hue.  It was a demonstration that the ARVN can defend itself. 

Second, don't buy in Vo Nguyen Giap propaganda that he launched the offensive to make a political statement.  The man is boastful but his military record was most questionable, he was deposed and replaced by his second in command when he lost so many battles.  He launched the offensive because he thought he could win and capture strategic points in South Vietnam.  However, when he failed and his Viet Coung allies were crushed, what luck he had because the Americans hippies made it into a political victory for North Vietnam. 

Third, the Khe Sanh offensive happened before Tet by the NVA, not by the Viet Cong.  They lost greatly.  Although, their goal for besieging Khe Sanh was unclear.  Some say it was a diversion before the Tet Offensive but I doubt it. 

After the Tet Offensive, the Viet Cong were severely weakened because most of them came out, either got killed or arrested after.  Restating it once again, the American hippies helped turn an enemy military defeat into a political victory.

kafantaris
kafantaris

What we are seeing in Syria is a preview of the demise of the Iranian regime. 

The regime sees it too -- though it looks the other way. 

Nonetheless, the writing is on the wall. 

And it was put there with the blood of the Iranians killed while peacefully protesting the Ahmadinejad election. 

It is the shedding of innocent blood that started the Arab spring, and it will be the shedding of far more Iranian blood that will end it. 

This is the fate sealed by the brutality of that regime in 2009.

carlloeber
carlloeber

Send in the cavalry Mr. Obama .. even if you are 425 days and 20,000 deaths late .. you coward ..   

Bruno
Bruno

 The same Troll that you have been posting on CNN as well not surprising.

Raymondqa
Raymondqa

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Raymondqa
Raymondqa

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polnick
polnick

Warnings

have been given to Assad not to supply his foot soldiers with Sarin poison gas

grenades, rebels will then retaliate with thousands of Tabun nerve gas

canisters. Turks in order to protect its borders will bomb the opposing forces

with the mother of poison gasses VX Supreme. The battle will not end until the

high one sends down his holy flatulence.

polnick
polnick

The armies

of god must be opposed by all freedom people. Holy warriors are now attempting to

sweep Syria clean of its enlightened intellectuals and replace them with Koran

thumping radicals. Syria will then be turned into a 14th Century Theocracy,

its people will serve as food for the lions. 

Heterotic
Heterotic

Fewer muslims on Earth is a good thing. Go Syrians.

kobe1
kobe1

Most Syrians are Muslims, genius.

polnick
polnick

Five years of

free housing is promised to Syrian rebels if they defeat the Assad rent

collectors. Also government jobs will be given to those that have shown bravery.

Those that remain loyal to the oppressors will become homeless and unemployed.

God will be generous to the victors. 

Ettore Greco
Ettore Greco

A new surprise of great magnitude will expand everywhere the conflict between Jews, Muslims and Christians.  

This scenario, combined with the worsening of the financial crisis and the political assassination of Barack Obama, will lead into the next World War.

 

As if it were all written.

 

Now there is a need for an alternative Plan to oppose the very detailed Zionist Plan.

In fact, the Zionists expect the people to react with Instinct to their "surprises" and without a Plan.

 

For Humankind not to be trapped by the Zionist Plan it will take a leap in our thinking and a new way to view ourselves.

It will also be crucial to turn a new and progressive attention to the Bible which is the Constitution and origin for Jewish, Christian and Muslim Religions, the 3 instruments used by the Zionist Plan.

 

Shedding new light on the Bible will be difficult.

In fact, the followers of these 3 Religions are in good faith and like knights they charge with drawn swords to defend their Belief.

But, as arduous as it may seem, to eradicate the indoctrination of the Bible is the only alternative to a New World Order.

 

Therefore, it is now imperative to counterbalance with a new Progressive Science the myths and fantasies of these 3 Religions.

 

In spite of two findings from Einstein and Planck, one to show the equation between atoms and energy and the other to discover the constant between waves' frequencies and energy, traditional science has not yet closed the circle. Still today, the transformation from waves to atoms is not recognized by this antiquated science.

 

The repercussions of this transformation, Wavevolution, are huge and overturn many common beliefs. But, due to the limitations of our modern technology, science has not yet experienced the transformation from waves to atoms and, following its bureaucratic protocol, science cannot officially confirm any data unless it has been first experimented even if the evidence is right before our eyes.

 

The origin of the Universe is revealed even by the spark appearing from the friction of two cutting blades while they are being sharpened. Try to videotape the spark appearing from those two blades, then watch again the same film while is being rewound and in slow motion. You will see the light from the spark entering the blades and becoming part of them. In fact, the photons of light are the "building blocks" of the metal blades. This simple example should also be a clear indication to explain how the whole mass had been formed in the Universe.

In antithesis with the Bible, the Human beings made up of atoms are the ultimate product of a slow process started with transformed waves.

 

Since 3 billion people, between Jews, Christians and Muslims will soon be instigated in a great War with the most subtle of all Deceptions, a new Awareness is the only Solution.

www.wavevolution.org