May 15, 2014 | Quote
Assad Regime-rebel Agreement in Homs a Sign of Things to Come?
If Syrian forces continue to win battles against the rebels, it may force them to make more cease-fire deals and withdrawals in other cities.
The Syrian army on Friday moved into Homs, the country’s third-largest city, after reaching a cease-fire agreement with rebel forces in the city, which has been under siege for the past three years.
An editorial by Saudi newspaper Al-Watan on Sunday argued that the Homs withdrawal could be repeated elsewhere, paving the way for further truces and rebel withdrawals.
Tony Badran, a columnist for the Beirut-based news site NOW Lebanon and a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Post that he “would be cautious in extrapolating a trend or pattern from the Homs deal.”
“First, location wise, the city of Homs lies in the area of regime control in western Syria. That means it was possible to encircle it and lay siege to it in a manner that is not automatically replicable elsewhere,” explained Badran.
Second, he said, the fact that the rebels were not pushed out despite the siege, starvation and relentless shelling is telling as they retained arms under the deal. These fighters will return to fight on other fronts.
“Now, there are a couple of other places where the regime is attempting to achieve the same result through sieges, like in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, though they haven’t all fallen,” said Badran, adding that the regime has been trying for months to encircle Aleppo, but has been unsuccessful so far.
The withdrawal of rebel fighters did not significantly alter the balance of forces that has existed over the past year, though it demonstrates that the regime is well on its way to consolidate a corridor from Damascus to the coast, he said.