BEIRUT, June 1 (Reuters) - It was not so long ago that Bashar al-Assad's enemies thought he was finished.



In the summer of 2012, the rebels were not just at the gates of Damascus, but inside the capital, preying on Assad's harried forces.



Now, even as the United States seeks to increase aid and training to moderate rebels to fight Assad's forces, U.S. officials privately concede Assad isn't going anywhere soon.



Buoyed by a sequence of victories over the past year, won in large part through Iran and Hezbollah, its Lebanese paramilitary proxy, Assad will be elected president this week for a third seven-year term, symbolically contested by selected opponents playing walk-on roles to pad out the main drama.

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