Syrian rebels gaining ground in Aleppo
President Assad is now facing what many observers - including the Russians, his closest allies - believe to be the final act in the drama playing out on the ground in Syria. His forces are weakening while the rebels continue to surge forward in both the capital city of Damascus and the second largetst city Aleppo. The writing is on the wall and the only question now is how many more people have to die to keep Assad in power.
The rebels have been fighting in Aleppo for 8 months and now appear to be gaining significant ground against Assad's forces.
Syrian rebels have seized most of a military academy outside Aleppo after weeks of fighting with regime troops, a network of opposition activists said Saturday, in the latest sign that government forces are losing ground.
Rebel brigades have had the sprawling military base in a stranglehold for days.
A rebel commander told CNN in early December that at least 250 government soldiers had defected since the infantry academy came under siege, with most joining the rebel forces.
The Free Syrian Army now has control of most of the base, the opposition Local Coordination Committees for Syria said Saturday.
Heavy clashes were also reported between regime forces and rebel fighters in and around the town of Daraya, near the capital, Damascus.
Regime forces are shelling parts of the city, which has been under siege for weeks, according to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Observatory also reported shelling by government security forces of the northeastern towns of Harasta and Erbeen, in the Damascus suburbs, Saturday morning.
There are also clashes between rebel fighters and regime forces along the main highway that passes southern Damascus, it said.
The LCC reported airstrikes by fighter jets on southern neighborhoods of the capital.
At least 60 people died across the country on Saturday, including 20 in Damascus and its suburbs, the LCC reported.
It appears that Aleppo will fall before Damascus. Assad has his most reliable armored division commanded by his brother protecting the capital. They are not likely to be dislodged anytime soon - especially since the rebels still don't have any armor of their own and few artillery pieces.
But once Aleppo falls, even Russia may have to reassess it's support for Assad. It may be at that time that they will cease their obstructionism and help the west bring about regime change in Syria that will be as bloodless as possible while preventing the Islamists from dominating any post-Assad government.