Syrian Rebels: Assad's Regime is Crumbling

Syrian army defectors and rebel commanders say that Damascus attack would hasten the end of President Bashar Al-Assad's rule.

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Elad Benari,

Two of Assad's top military officials killed
Two of Assad's top military officials killed

Syrian army defectors and rebel commanders based in Turkey said that a bomb that killed three top military officials in Damascus would hasten the end of President Bashar Al-Assad's rule.

Speaking to Reuters, they predicted more defections and divisive internal feuding.

Brigadier Fayez Amr, a senior member of defectors' group, the Joint Leadership of the Higher Council, told the news agency the attack was a turning point in the 16-month-old uprising.

“The regime might now resort to more lethal weapons in retaliation but the biggest loser will ultimately be the regime. The strength of the regime no longer matters when it faces the will of a people against soldiers who have lost their will to fight and when a soldier knows he is fighting his own people. Victory is closer than ever now,” Amr told Reuters.

Syria's defense minister and Assad's brother-in-law were killed in the attack, the biggest blow to Assad's high command.

A security source said the bomber who struck inside the security headquarters was a bodyguard entrusted with protecting the closest members of Assad's circle. State television said it was a suicide bomber. Anti-Assad groups claimed responsibility.

Ahmad Zaidan, spokesman for the Higher Council of the Revolution's Leadership, an opposition group, told Reuters the blast was a major blow to the morale of the army. The opposition estimates that 50,000 soldiers out of 280,000 have deserted.

“It's the beginning of the breaking of the chain, the regime has lost control now and those around Bashar Al-Assad whom he relied on are gone. The regime's foundations have been shaken. It's just Bashar now who's left,” said Zaidan.

Dozens of soldiers had defected in Idlib province in the last few hours, he said.

Abdullah al-Shami, a rebel commander, who has led rebel attacks in Aleppo, told Reuters, “This this is a qualitative shift that will further demoralize any one who supports the regime.”

He added, “I expect a speedy collapse of the regime ... and it means we will not be in need of outside intervention with the regime beginning to crumble much faster than we envisaged.”

At the same time, Muhaiman al-Taiee, a senior officer in the Front for Syrian Revolutionaries, an umbrella group that coordinates major rebel brigades, said organizational weakness among armed opposition groups meant Assad could still win more time.

“Unfortunately if we had been better organized these momentous events would have brought an immediate collapse of Assad's rule. But ... we still have some way to go,” he told Reuters.

Jordan's King Abdullah II said on Wednesday that the attack is a “tremendous blow to the regime,” but cautioned that he did not think the attack meant Assad's regime was about to crumble immediately.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, UN special envoy Kofi Annan asked the Security Council to delay a vote on a new resolution on Syria.

The Western-backed resolution threatens Syrian authorities with sanctions if they do not stop using heavy weapons in towns. Russia has said it will block the move.