The other factor that weighs greatly in Assad’s favour in his bid for survival is the support he is receiving from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Much is being made of the recent shipment of Russian S-300 anti-aircraft batteries to Syria to protect the regime from possible Nato air strikes.
But the real game-changer on the ground has been the training and equipment provided by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, who have helped to train thousands of Syrians to fight on the regime’s behalf.
As I revealed last September, an estimated 150 Revolutionary Guards were sent to Syria by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after Iran decided it could not let its most important regional ally succumb to the rebel forces which, backed by al-Qaeda sympathisers, were at that time threatening to overrun the regime.
Now the Iranians’ efforts are starting to pay dividends, and the latest military assessments suggest that the thousands of Syrian fighters who have undergone training at the hands of the Revolutionary Guards are now having a profound effect on the course of the fighting.
As I reported earlier this week, these troops, having recently graduated from secret training camps staffed by 150 Iranian military advisers, are now taking a lead role in attacking the rebels.
As with many of the conflicts in the region, it is sometimes difficult to pick which side to root for. That decision is made easier when Iran and its lunatic leader get involved. And the Russians are helping.
Did I just wake up in 1980?