After two years of fighting during which an estimated 80,000 people have died, the Syrian war may now be entering its final phase. With battlefield support from Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia the Syrian army is advancing everywhere against opponents in growing disarray.
A strategic city is poised to fall to the besieging Syrian army, while the regime will soon take delivery of Russian aircraft and anti-aircraft missiles. These could deter any foreign incursions into Syrian airspace.
Islamists continue to offer strong resistance to Assad, but the rebels have yet to form a coherent military organisation.
Fighters in the field are deeply frustrated by their lack of heavy arms and artillery. One rebel is pictured in today’s press defending himself with a slingshot.
Shashank Joshi is an analyst with the Royal United Services Institute in London.