Syrian rebels attacked two of the four major military outposts along the border with Iraq, killing 21 Syrian soldiers and seizing control of the base, according to a senior Iraqi official.
“We have security concerns because the border crossing now is out of the Syria government’s control, and nobody can anticipate what will happen,” said Iraqi Army Brig. General Qassim al-Dulaimi. The Iraqi army is now on high alert to prevent any spill-over violence.
The border crossing is located just 200 miles west of Baghdad, and the Syrian troops were forced out but unharmed. Hours after the seizing of this outpost, al-Dulaimi said rebels attacked another army use near the Iraqi border and killed 20 soldiers and their commander.
These rebel achievements come just a day after a bomb attack in Damascus killed three of Assad’s top military officials and consultants.
This week’s stepped-up rebel campaign against the Assad regime has increased in capacity and sophistication at an incredible rate. Although support to the rebels had not previously resulted in substantial opposition gains, the passed few days seem to have been the result of a new kind of outside help.
The Assad regime remains very strong and largely cohesive, but rebel activity appears to be gaining ground and effectiveness. The fact that hundreds of al-Qaeda militants are also fighting the Assad regime in sync with the rebels has not seem to have given Western leaders too much pause. The post-Assad mess that is sure to come – if these gains are the beginning of the end for Assad – has also received little consideration, especially given the fractured, sectarian nature of the opposition.