WASHINGTON - Forces seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are gaining strength and territory, but the Syrian opposition remains fragmented and is grappling with an infusion of militant foreign fighters, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Tuesday.
Two years into an uprising against Assad's rule, U.S. intelligence agencies do not know how long the Syrian leader will keep his hold on the country, Clapper said at a Senate Intelligence Committee on global security threats."The question comes up, 'How long will Assad last?' And our standard answer is, 'His days are numbered. We just don't know the number.' Our assessment is that he is very committed to hanging in there and sustaining his control of the regime," Clapper told the Senate panel.
Assad's government is losing territory and experiencing shortages in manpower and logistics, Clapper said. But at the same time, there are "literally hundreds" of cells of opposition fighters over which leaders are struggling to impose more centralized command and control.