Saturday offered yet another caution against sweeping declarations that the Syrian conflict is nearing a resolution, in this case victory for the regime.
In the pendulum swing from last year's narrative was that the insurgents were on an inexorable march to success, so this month's --- including in outlets like The Washington Post --- has been that President Assad's military were on the point of defeating the insurgency.
Yesterday, however, the assurance that regime troops had broken the months-long hold of insurgents on a ring of Damascus suburbs ran into trouble. A coalition of opposition brigades --- including elements of the Free Syrian Army and the Islamist factions Jabhat al-Nusra, Liwaa al-Islam, and Liwaa Martyrs of Douma--- reclaimed Otaiba.
Otaiba is only two miles from Damascus International Airport and has been one of the points for the flow of foreign-supplied arms from Jordan to the insurgency. Last month, it was taken by the regime after sustained shelling and attacks.
On Saturday, insurgent commanders celebrated the victory by proclaiming that --- in contrast to the disarry that "lost" Otaiba to the Syrian military --- their new "unity" would bring a renewed offensive against President Assad's forces. One declared, "This is like a rehearsal for a wider cooperation across the country. If this is successful then all of us will consider forming a national army."
That, like other sweeping predictions, should be treated with caution. However, this weekend's developments have offered a valuable conclusion: neither side is likely to be enjoying "final" victory in a battle for Damascus for quite some time.