Claimed footage of the aftermath of regime attacks on the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, which killed at least 20 people on Thursday (Warning: Graphic)
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Thursday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Is Aleppo Out of Control?
2040 GMT: Syria. For two weeks we have been talking about the likelihood that the Syrian Army will liberate Aleppo in the sudden push of a massive military assault on the country's largest city. For two weeks, we have been saying that the Free Syrian Army will make Assad pay for every inch of that liberation. Now, however, we need to consider that the most likely scenario may no longer be regime victory in Aleppo.
The roads north of Aleppo are virtually clear of the Syrian army. The area as far east as Kobani (also known as Ayn-al-Arab), and as far west as Dar T'Izzah, all the way north to the border with Turkey, is either completely or largely in insurgent hands. Free Syrian Army fighters have captured perhaps hundreds of vehicles, some of them armoured, and a few of them are tanks.
The FSA has more and more weapons, and has proven it can beat Assad's armour. Those fighters have been hit hard by the helicopters and jet fighters, but have proven that they are strong enough to take those hits. We have now gone many days without a regime victory in the area, and the FSA continues to advance. Perhaps as much of 70% of Aleppo is under some degree of FSA control, while the insurgents are closing in on Assad's military bases south of Salaheddin.
Common knowledge says that the regime will strike soon, but common knowledge said that the regime would retake the city last Saturday. It didn't happen. The FSA won the battles. In fact, there is no available empirical evidence that suggests the Assad regime can win the future battles inside Aleppo.
A quick look at the map tells the story --- the area in blue is area over which the FSA has at least partial control, though this is likely too conservatively drawn):
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The regime is working against the clock. Since February, the Syrian military has not retaken a single city or town that has been in insurgent control for more than 2 weeks. Reporters on the ground are saying that the FSA is become better equipped and better supplied and that its ranks, both inside Aleppo and outside, are growing.
The regime could make a significant military assault in a bid to take Aleppo back, but it would likely have to be much larger than anything we have seen so far.
Without being alarmist, the most likely scenario may not be a regime assault on the city. Soon, the Free Syrian Army could be poised to take Aleppo --- all of it.