The people of Syria face a humanitarian disaster. The state is responsible for most of the estimated 23,000 deaths since the uprising against Bashar Assad’s police state began in March 2011.
The regime has now lost control over large areas of the country and is resorting to the use of attack helicopters and fixed-wing planes against its own people.
Over a quarter of a million people have fled the country and 1.2 million are internally displaced. The UN states that 2.5 million are in need of food and other aid.
Basic infrastructure is breaking down. For example, sewage-contaminated water has led to a diarrhoea outbreak in the countryside around Damascus. Power cuts take place for hours each day, in many areas.
The regime is unable to retake much of Aleppo in the north west and rebels are perhaps close to overrunning the airport which has been used as a base for air attacks. The rebel militias, mainly the Free Syrian Army are going through a reorganisation, merging and attempting to build an effective central command.
In the Kurdish north east of Syria the state has abdicated allowing the PKK to take control. The PKK is a repressive Kurdish group that has fought a long war with the Turkish state.
This seems to be part of the Syrian strategy. Rather than give up power Assad’s regime seems willing to allow Syria to collapse into warring fiefdoms, similar to those that existed in Lebanon, during their civil war in the 1970s and 80s.
The fragmentation at the top of the regime continues to indicate the extreme pressure they are under.
Prime minister Riyadh Hijab escaped and join the opposition two weeks ago; the state was denying yesterday that Vice-President Farouq al-Shara, who has not been seen recently, had also defected.