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Assad firmly in control of Syria: US intelligence officials

Washington, Sat, 10 Mar 2012 ANI

Washington, Mar 10 (ANI): President Bashar al-Assad is firmly in control of the situation in Syria even after a year long uprising and is increasingly willing to use militaries on opposition groups, according to senior US intelligence officials.


The officials also said that Assad's inner circle is "remaining steadfast," with little indication that senior figures in the regime are inclined to move off, despite efforts by the Obama administration and its allies to use sanctions and other measures to create a wave of defections that would undermine Assad.


"Assad is very much in charge," said a senior U.S. intelligence official responsible for tracking the conflict.


The Washington Post quoted the official as saying that the Syrian President and his inner circle seem convinced that the rebellion is being driven by external foes and that they are equipped to withstand all but a large-scale military intervention.


"That leadership is going to fight very hard. Over the long term, the odds are against them, but they are going to fight very hard," the official said.


Three intelligence officials on the condition of anonymity provided the comments that are the most detailed on the status of the uprising, which began last March, the paper reports.


Overall, they described Syria as a formidable military power, with 330,000 active-duty soldiers, surveillance drones supplied by Iran and a dense network of air defense installations that would make it difficult for the United States or other powers to establish a no-fly zone.


In Washington, the intelligence officials cited a number of factors protecting the regime from collapse, The Post reports. (ANI)


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