The Syrian army put up a sustained artillery barrage of Damascus’s southern suburbs on Tuesday. A big counterattack is underway, but if anything it adds to the sense of the regime’s desperation, and speculation it is playing its final cards.
While some fear President Bashar al-Assad may resort to chemical weapons, it may be he has already lost too much control, but any endgame is likely to be even more complicated than the confused fighting.
Aleppo’s suffering is reflected in the length of queues to buy bread, and all around the country rebel fighters, despite setbacks, appear to be closing in on the centres of power.
Government control was long-since wrested away in Syria’s northeast, where the Kurds have beaten off a challenge from rebel forces and where an uneasy truce now reigns. The Kurds control territory from Ras al-Ayn on the Turkish border down to the frontier with Iraq.
“I think all people are the same, Kurdish, Arabs, Christians, Assyrians, all should be part of the same social class. Religion is not a problem. As for the Kurdish people, I don’t want this country to be just for Kurdish people. We just want freedom and peace,” says Nubhar, a 24-year-old woman.
But the Kurds will have to be reckoned with in any eventual post-Assad Syria; another potential roadblock for the future architects of any peace settlement to add to an already long list.