All of this takes place against a backdrop of steadily rising violence that increasingly resembles a civil war with more and more soldiers defecting and citizens taking up arms. The so-called “Free Syrian Army,” (FSA), comprised of defectors and armed citizens, has grown in step with each crackdown on protesters by Bashar’s regime. Nevertheless, thus far, there has been no mass exodus from Assad’s army. As such, the balance of power still favors the regime. Moreover, while the FSA has inflicted numerous casualties against government loyalists, any full-scale confrontation with Assad’s troops would be incredibly bloody and likely result in the FSA’s defeat.
Syria finds itself in a violent holding pattern with no visible means of escape. Assad remains intransigent, now perhaps buoyed even further by support from his Russian benefactors. Meanwhile, as the military continue its strikes, often in densely populated civilian areas, Syrians pay in blood for protesting in favor of Assad’s fall, or for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. While there is a sense Assad will inevitably go the way of Ben Ali, Mubarak, Saleh, or, perhaps even Gaddafi, until that day comes, Syrians will continue to endure repression and violence at Assad’s hands.