Germany’s foreign intelligence agency has fundamentally changed its view of the ongoing civil war in Syria, now saying the forces of President Bashar al-Assad have the upper hand, the German website Spiegel Online
Less than one year ago, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) believed that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime was nearing collapse. But Spiegel Online says the agency now believes the opposition is in trouble and that Assad’s military is able to conduct successful operations at will against the rebels.
Last summer, BND chief Gerhard Schindler told government officials and the media that he believed the regime would collapse in early 2013.
The agency pointed to the Syrian military’s precarious supply situation and large numbers of desertions that included the army’s officer core, and German officials spoke of the “end phase of the regime.”
Since then, the situation has changed dramatically in Assad’s favor.
In a recent briefing, Schindler used maps and graphics to show that regime forces have regained effective supply lines to ensure sufficient quantities of weapons. Fuel supplies for tanks and military aircraft, which had been problematic, are once again available, permitting Assad’s forces to combat spontaneous rebel attacks and recapture lost military positions.
While the Syrian military is currently not strong enough to defeat rebel forces, it is capable of making gains, the BND believes.
According to Spiegel Online, this is consistent with recent reports from the battlefield, where government troops have regained the upper hand in the region stretching from Damascus to Homs.
The Syrian military has cut off rebel supply lines in the Damascus area.
The BND believes that rebel forces, including some groups with ties to al-Qaida, are facing extreme difficulties, and in some cases are fighting each other for control of territory.
The Syrian military has cut weapon supply lines and evacuation routes for rebel wounded. Should recent trends continue, government forces could recapture all of southern Syria by the end of 2013, Schindler said.
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