The ranks of the Free Syria Army will grow as the pace of defections remains steady. Dozens of soldiers are said to have switched sides in the Harasta suburb of Damascus. There were clashes when some soldiers defended the people in Rastan in Homs Province and even in Damascus. There were also clashes at the Mezzeh military airport near the capital. One defector claims that 4,000 soldiers are imprisoned in Damascus alone, and an opposition website says the number is over 22,000 including 7,000 officers.
The defected soldiers have not been able to seriously challenge the Assad regime’s forces. Ammar Abdulhamid says this is because of logistical problems, but these issues are being overcome.
“Even though, they seem to have a long way to go before they can mount major operations inside the country, because of limited funds and support from external sources, the sympathy they have found in certain communities, especially in parts of Homs, Hama, Idlib and Deir Ezzor provinces, has allowed them time to organize and strategize,” he wrote.
The U.S. is quietly becoming more supportive of the Syrian opposition. Ambassador Robert Ford is keeping his contacts with the Assad regime to a minimum, while meeting with opposition activists. He is also said to be looking for regime officials that he can persuade to defect.
Former CIA counter-terrorism officer John Kiriakou suggests that a military coup may be the best way forward.
“A military coup is the only way to spare Syria from the spiral of death and violence it is entering. Nobody wants a weak and unpredictable Syria. All of the country’s neighbors, Israel included, want a predictable and stable one….They [the Syrian military] are a known entity and would likely garner quick international support and recognition if they were able to seize power,” Kiriakou wrote.
The protesters have proven that they will not rest until Bashar Assad is out of power, and his regime has proven that it will not go down without firing every last shot it has. The status quo cannot be sustained. The uprising will be crushed, a military coup will take place, or a Libya-like civil war will topple the regime. The situation in Syria is bound to become even more unstable and unpredictable as time goes on.
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