Wednesday 2 January 2013

Syria rebel and regime forces on 2012 chessboard

Clockwise from L.: Deraa, Damascus, Hama, Latakia, Idlib, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor & Homs governorates

Syria’s insurgents pushed regime forces out of broad non-urban areas and over-ran key border crossings and major oil and gas fields across the country in 2012.
Doha-based Aljazeera broadcaster gives this roundup of who was controlling what by year’s end:

  • Except for some airports, insurgents control all the countryside of Aleppo governorate, Syria’s most populous.  They also hold 60% of Aleppo city, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
  • In the adjacent governorate of ar-Raqqah, insurgents hold most of the countryside. But regime forces still hang on to ar-Raqqah city.
  • Save for a number of military checkpoints, opposition forces control the largest part of Idlib governorate’s countryside. However, Idlib city remains in the hands of regime forces -- and so are the cities of Latakia, Tartus, Sweida, Hama and al-Hasaka.
  • Rebels control two-thirds of Deir Ezzor governorate bordering Iraq and most international routes leading across the desert to the oilfields.
  • In central Syria, the Free Syrian Army is in command of 13 neighborhoods in the city of Homs. The remaining neighborhoods are either relatively calm or under regime control.
  • Homs governorate’s cities of al-Rastan, Talbissa and al-Qusayr are in the hands of opposition forces, who are currently trying to hold sway over the international highway segment between al-Qusayr and Rableh leading to Lebanese territory in order to cut off (presumably Hezbollah) reinforcements to regime forces.
  • Except for its southern neighborhoods, Damascus is under regime control.  But in Rif Dimashq Governorate (“Governorate of the Countryside of Damascus”), the Free Syrian Army has captured the barrens surrounding the cities of an-Nabk and Yabroud to raid regime convoys using the highway linking Damascus and Homs. Eastern Ghouta, which is also in Rif Dimashq Governorate, is outside the control of regime forces too.
  • In southern Syria, insurgents hold 40% of Deraa Governorate, but regime forces keep their control of the Damascus-Deraa-Amman highway.
  • In the country’s extreme northeast, regime forces pulled out from majority Kurdish cities, such as Amouda and Ras el-Ain (within sight of the Turkish border), handing them over to the PKK-affiliated Democratic Union Party.
  • Many border crossings have come under the insurgents’ control, chiefly the Syria-Turkey border crossings of Bab al-Hawa, Jarablus, Tell Abyad and the Syria-Iraq border crossing of Qaem in the Abu Kamal area. Insurgents have also set up several outposts close to the Syria-Jordan border.
  • In late 2012, opposition forces started capturing lucrative resources, such as oil and gas fields, in the Deir Ezzor and ar-Raqqah countryside. Two of the three largest fields are now in opposition hands, which is also helping the regime run out of money.