October 21, 2013
The mainstream Syrian rebel movement is under assault from three directions: the Syrian army, the Al-Qaeda Nusra Front and Al Qaeda in Iraq. Some of the rebel commanders controlling Damascus outskirts are clinching private ceasefire deals with local Syrian army officers, with some of whom they served as comrades in the same units before they defected. This trend is spreading to other cities, including Homs and Hama.
DEBKAfile’s intelligence and military sources report that these local deals are quickly evolving into joint patrols in rebel-held districts. The fusion of the two warring camps presages the prospect of wide areas seized by the rebels reverting to the control of President Bashar Assad’s regime without further bloodshed.
Not all the rebel leaders go along with this trend. Some are trying to sabotage it by suicide bombing and shelling attacks. Most of these attacks are the work of Al Qaeda factions, like the suicide truck explosion at a government checkpoint on the edge of Hama Sunday, Oct. 20, which killed 30 people.
This kind of violence is beginning to peter out because the rebels’ main supporters, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey and anti-Syrian elements in Lebanon, have slowed their logistic assistance and munitions deliveries. They are following the lead of the US, Britain and France, who never made good on the pledges last month to keep the rebels supplied with arms, instructors and military aid.