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Syria Civil War: War Enters Fourth Year and Rebels Are Clearly Losing

Syrian rebels fire their weapons.
Syrian rebels fire their weapons. (Scree capture from YouTube video)
Syrian President Bashar Assad has survived for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the rebels' disarray and infighting.

By Patrick J. McDonnell
On the ragged fringes of the Old City, aid workers, clerics and government troops stood vigil, awaiting a U.N. convoy evacuating women, children and the aged from the besieged ancient quarter of a town known to many as ground zero in the Syrian civil war.

But the buses disgorged a very different class of passengers: scores of young men, haggard and sallow-faced, blankets draped over their shoulders and fear evident in their eyes. They shuffled uncertainly under the hostile gaze of Syrian troops and intelligence officers toward a makeshift processing center in a run-down banquet hall.

The men, who turned themselves in last month, were remnants of Homs' rebel defenders, once the spearhead of the insurgency, now bedraggled and half-starved. They were placing their fate in the hands of their most bitter foe, the forces of President Bashar Assad.

"What do you think they will do with us?" one after another of the dispirited men asked in hushed tones.

As the Syrian conflict enters its fourth year, one thing is clear: The U.S.-backed rebels are losing the war. Assad's army, once dismissed as inadequately equipped, ill-prepared for guerrilla fighting and of suspect loyalty, is chalking up victory after victory.

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