More than 10,000 soldiers have deserted the Syrian army, sources say, with as many as half the conscripts not reporting in the last three call-ups.These developments bolster the predictive claims made by Israel's Defense Minister:
According to Western intelligence agencies, even though the top brass is still loyal to President Bashar Assad, lower-level officers are deserting in large numbers, and in some cases, whole units have deserted en masse.
The army is considered the main factor safeguarding Assad's regime, after mass protests began in the south in March and spread throughout the country, inspired by the demonstrations elsewhere in the Arab world.
On Tuesday, at least 73 people were killed in Syria in clashes between the army and opposition, most of them in Homs in the west and Idlib in the northwest. The 73 dead added to the 100 who were killed on Monday, among them 14 soldiers ambushed by opposition forces, human rights groups said.
The groups added that Assad's forces were transferring wounded opposition activists from hospitals to army bases to prevent them from testifying to Arab League observers expected to arrive under a deal struck on Monday.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak predicted this month that the Syrian regime would collapse within weeks. Barak said it was impossible to know who would rule Syria in the future, but in any case it would be a blow to the alliance between Iran and Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah.Geographically, Iran may be in a better position to rule Syria, which would go a long way in explaining Hamas - an extension of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood - closing up shop in Syria. Then again, much of the resistance in Syria supports the Brotherhood so who ultimately takes control there is clearly not as easy to determine as say, Egypt or the other North African countries, which are lining up behind the Brotherhood.
Another sign of the Syrian regime's frailty is Hamas' decision to move its headquarters from Damascus, as the Palestinian group that runs the Gaza Strip prepares for a possible post-Assad era.
h/t Free Republic