Senior Military Defector: Syrian Army Near Collapse
From the Sunday Telegraph:
In his first full-length newspaper interview, General Mustafa al-Sheikh, who has taken refuge in Turkey, gave an apocalyptic insider's view of the state of the regime – despite its attempt to reassert control this weekend.
The Assads' increasing reliance on loyalists from their own Alawite minority meant Sunni officers had fled, were under house arrest or at best marginalised and distrusted.
"The army will collapse during February," he said. "The reasons are the shortage of Syrian army personnel, which even before March 15 last year did not exceed 65 per cent. The proportion of equipment that was combat ready did not exceed that, due to a shortage of spare parts.
"The Syrian army combat readiness I would put at 40 per cent for hardware and 32 per cent for personnel.
"They are sending in elements from the Shabiha (militia) and the Alawite sect to compensate, but this army is unable to continue more than a month. Some elements of the army are reaching out to the FSA [Free Syrian Army] to help them to defect."