September 8, 2013


Assad forces fear rebel rampage in aftermath of U.S. strikes (Reuters, 9/08/13)

"I'm more afraid now than I was ever when we fought in Qusair or Khalidiyeh," said Saleem, referring to some of the most hard-fought battles of the past six months.

"If a foreign strike comes and the rebels manage to intensify their operations simultaneously, that's a whole new level of combat. I'm still more scared of rebel mortars than U.S. cruise missiles."

Interviews conducted remotely with more than a dozen Syrian soldiers, officers and members of militia groups backing President Bashar al-Assad reveal deep fears as they prepare for U.S. strikes at locations across the country.

Most of the soldiers were contacted by a Syrian journalist working for Reuters, now based in Beirut, who cannot be identified for security reasons. The soldiers he spoke to also requested anonymity or used only their first names.

Their comments reveal a military worried about its prospects after strikes that could reshape the battlefield in a war that has already killed more than 100,000 people and driven a third of the population of 22 million from their homes.

Many said their greatest worry is not the American missiles themselves, but the prospect that outside intervention could embolden their rebel enemies, who could launch an offensive and tip the balance of power in the two-and-a-half year civil war.

War plans don't matter.

Posted by at September 8, 2013 11:34 AM

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