While the UN Security Council, for the third time, failed to get a resolution to increase sanctions against Syria's Assad regime, there seems to be a shift within Syria. Assad, not unlike Libya's Gaddafi, has his back against the wall and will do whatever it takes to survive.
Earlier in the week the International Red Cross declared a civil war in Syria. This permits the international community to make both sides of the conflict accountable with "Crimes against Humanity" and "War Crimes."
On Thursday Daoud Rajiha, Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim Shaar, former Defence Minister Hassan Turkmani, who headed the regime’s crisis management cell, and Gen. Hisham Ikhtiyar were killed in an apparent suicide attack, along with high ranking officials. The attack took place during a high level meeting in the Syrian capital's Interior Ministry building. The rebel group Liwa Al-Islam took credit for the attack.
Some reports had indicated that President Assad was believed to be at the meeting and was possibly injured. This report later proved to be false as Assad appeared publicly to swear in a new Defence Minister on Thursday.
This weekend the battle shifted to Syria's largest city, Aleppo. Assad's military is pushing back hard and there have been reports that as many as 500 people have been massacred.
In an ironic move, the UN Security Council approved a 30 day extension to the "UN Ceasefire Observer Mission." It is difficult to see what exactly this mission will observe.
All indications are that the Syrian Free Army and other rebel groups could not have executed and planned the Interior Ministry attack without outside help. While the United States, through the State Department, regularly puts out press releases on humanitarian aid to Syria, very little is being said about military and training assistance to the Syrian rebels.
An article in the Jordan Times points out that the recent success of the rebels could not have occurred without outside help.
"Clearly, Wednesday’s bombings in Damascus that killed the top layer of the security forces was carefully planned and could not have been carried out without “inside” help. And there are clear signs that the rebel forces are receiving increased support from external supporters.
We are witnessing a sudden surge in the revolt. The rebel forces appear to have gained more effectiveness and sophistication, most likely with help from the US and its Arab allies, as the Lebanese media reported.
The external intervention came after the UN Security Council failed to live up to its responsibility to act according to resolution 2043, or put an end to the bloodshed, mainly because of Russian and Chinese opposition that left the West with two choices: intervene through direct and indirect means or let the regime murder its way in an attempt to ensure its survival." Source: Jordan Times
While the rebels can't celebrate yet, the recent events have clearly limited the options of the Assad regime. The West will continue to train Syrian rebels, assist in planning operations, and continue to provide them with more sophisticated weapons. The weapons can be brought into Syria through Lebanon and Turkey. Reportedly the Syrian Free Army has captured all the border crossings to Turkey.
As long as the international community can't get their act together and Russia and China continue to be holdouts, the carnage in Syria will continue.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 1261 people had been killed across Syria since Sunday, including 299 of forces loyal to Assad. This has been the bloodiest week since the uprising began in March 2011, which has claimed close to 20,000 lives.
Is it the end game for Assad? All signs point that way, but it won't end without a lot more bloodshed.