Assad in a position of strength after Vienna deal with Iran. Tehran revitalizes his depleted army

Syrian President Bashar Assad, in his first public speech in a year, could afford Sunday, July 26, to admit that his overstretched army had been forced to give up “critical areas” in a civil war that was dragging into its fifth year at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives, because he was confident that he is on a winning streak.  This confidence he gained from three recent developments:
1. The nuclear accord Iran signed with the six world powers led by the Unite States on July 14 has granted him and extra lease of life. The Syrian dictator, Tehran’s senior ally, can now count himself safe from US efforts to depose him – never mind if he cheated on his chemical weapons stocks and continues to use them in battle – after the Obama administration effectively anointing Iran leading Middle East power and strategic partner.

In his speech, Assad congratulated his best friend in Tehran for pulling off this feat in Vienna and commended the “positive changes in western attitudes to the {Syrian] conflict.” He noted that the “US and its allies now understood they shared an interest” with his regime “in defeating ISIS-style jihad terrorism.”
From the early days of the Syrian war, Assad claimed he was fighting Islamic terrorism and, if the world failed to understand this point, they too would be attacked.
2.  He now feels vindicated by Turkey’s entry to the civil war over the weekend in cooperation with the US. The two powers have declared war on the Islamic State and the Kurdish military amalgam of the Syrian YPG and outlawed Turkish PKK. Since these are the two most powerful fighting forces imperiling his regime in Damascus, this outside intervention in the Syrian war is welcome for taking some of the heavy lifting off the shoulders of the Syrian army.

Furthermore, Washington has promised Tehran to withhold from the third element fighting the Assad regime, the Syrian rebel movements, weapons powerful enough to tilt the scales of the civil war in their favor
Sunday night, July 26, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu informed Turkish media editors: “Turkey has no plans to send ground troops into Syria, but has agreed with the United States that air cover should be provided for moderate rebels fighting Islamic State forces there.”
The Syrian ruler and Tehran can therefore stop worrying. The Syrian insurgents, some of which were backed by the US for years in their fight against Assad, will now have to be satisfied with air cover alone – and even then, only if they stop fighting Assad and turn their guns on the Islamists.

3.  With the new lease of life given his regime by these radical shifts in the strategic landscape of the long Syrian war, Assad could afford to talk down his regime’s surrender of territory, “as a question of priorities. It was necessary to specify critical areas for our armed forces to hang onto,” while voicing gratitude for the “important and effective assistance” rendered by Iran and Hizballah for enabling him to adopt this tactic.
As to his most acute problem, the flagging powers of his armed forces: “The problem facing the military,” he explained coolly, “is not related to planning but to fatigue. It is normal than an army gets tired, but there’s a difference between fatigue and defeat.”

But he dodged any mention of the mass desertions and defections to the enemy which have shrunk his army. Neither did he reveal how he proposes to remedy this problem.
However, debkafile’s military and intelligence source are able to fill this gap: Shortly before the speech he delivered in Damascus, Assad was presented by Tehran with a new rehabilitation plan for his army, updated to the latest events. Instead divisions and brigades, it would reorganized with the assistance of Iranian and Hizballah officers into three armored commando super-divisions, one each for the northern, southern and Damascus fronts.
The 4th Division, which is the Republican Guard, would continue to defend Damascus. The 14th Division, which is made up of Special Forces, would have its “tired” officers replaced by younger, fresher commanders fighting under superior Iranian officers.
The immediate consequence of the Vienna nuclear accord on the ground has therefore been to revitalize the Assad regime in Damascus, rejuvenate his army and bring Iranian military forces closer than ever before to the borders of Israel and Jordan. 

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