Assad's regime is finally in real trouble on the battlefield

Substantial territorial losses by the regime in the northern city of Jisr-el-Shugur and beyond, after the city of Idlib also fell to rebels, coupled with a relatively successful series of advances around the southwest of Damascus, are the result of new levels of cooperation among rebel groups that have spent the past years fighting each other for supremacy, to the detriment of their campaign against al-Assad. The rise of ISIS had also provided another obstacle to more moderate rebels in their fight against the Syrian regime.

This change may more broadly assist U.S. foreign policy goals by raising the likelihood of the al-Assad regime — or those within it — being willing to contemplate a political solution to the now four-year war. Yet it comes with a substantial downside: Many of the rebel groups seeing success now are allied with and fighting alongside the Nusra Front — al Qaeda’s franchise in Syria…

Elias Hanna, a former Lebanese army general who now teaches at the American University of Beirut, said, “Two years ago they were fighting each other, now they are fighting together. Moreover there is a major shift in the regional issue in Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. I think they are preparing something and helping indirectly with weapons, training, and backing.”