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There are reports of clashes between Syrian rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad less than a mile from the presidential office in Damascus, Dana El Baltaji of Bloomberg reports.
Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a political science professor in the United Arab Emirates, told Bloomberg that Assad “is no longer the president of Syria, he is the governor of Damascus,” and said the Assad is “holding on to his last territory in downtown Damascus.”
The clashes come as BBC’s Jim Muir reports that rebels west of Aleppo strengthened their hold on a large base — the only significant government facility remaining in the area — under the leadership of radical jihadist militants including the al-Nusra Front, which the U.S. has dubbed a terrorist organisation.
UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi recently held “constructive” talks with US and Russian officials, during which the parties “re-affirmed their common assessment that the situation in Syria was bad and getting worse” while agreeing that “a political process to end the crisis in Syria was necessary and still possible.”
Nevertheless, Abdulla noted that it won’t be easy to topple Assad as he will “fight to the last bullet and hold Damascus for ransom in last-minute negotiations.”
Rebels are expecting a boost in the way of heavy weaponry from Gulf nations and the West after forming a unified Islamist-dominated military command over the weekend. The U.S. recently acknowledged that it will also send heavy weaponry to the opposition.