Syrian war enters new phase but no end in sight

Alarmed by Assad's swift advances and hoping to turn the tide, Washington might decide later this week on whether to start arming the rebels.

By REUTERS
June 11, 2013 08:41
Yet another firefight in Syria.

firefight in syria 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

AMMAN/BEIRUT - Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad are massing around Aleppo in preparation for an offensive to retake the city and build on battlefield gains that have swung the momentum of Syria's war to Assad and his Hezbollah allies.

Rebels reported signs of large numbers of Shi'ite Muslim fighters flowing in from Iraq to help Assad end the civil war that has killed at least 80,000 people and forced 1.6 million Syrians to flee abroad.

The move to a northern front comes as Syria's war is increasingly infecting its neighbors - Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel - and widening a regional sectarian fault line between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims.

For the first time since the start of the uprising in March 2011, an Israeli minister suggested on Monday that Assad might prevail in the war, thanks in large part to support from Shi'ite Iran and the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah.