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Syrian Army, Rebels Continue to Trade Victories

Both the Syrian army and rebel fighters remain aggressive in the country’s civil conflict, eager to assert any perceived advantage. On Friday, the government lost the largest military air base in northern Syria to rebel fighters after a battle that lasted 10 days. Regime forces responded by bombing the base heavily, but where unable to regain control of Taftanaz air base in Idlib province.

Near another air base in Daraya, Syrian troops have successfully fought off rebel forces after two months of fighting, causing the deaths and misplacement of the Syrian citizens caught in the war-zone.

As fighting continues, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has refused peace talks, confident that his regime will break the relative stalemate that has kept the country at war for almost two years.

“From day one, Bashar al-Assad was underestimated by the opposition and by the international community,” Malik al Abdeh, a Syrian journalist based in London told The Washington Post. “He is playing a high-stakes game, he’s playing it pretty smart and he seems to be winning because of the simple fact that he is still in power.”

Syria’s civil conflict has been the longest running and most violent of the rebellions sparked by the Arab Spring in 2011. On Wednesday, the U.N. released estimates that the death toll in Syria had reached over 60,000. International pressure has continued to mount against Assad’s regime.

Though the country was believed to be one of Syria’s few supporters, a statement from Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday urged the leader to implement a political transition process. The statement stopped short of saying that Assad should step down, and maintained that a solution from the conflict should come from inside the Syrian borders.

“As before, we strongly believe that all the issues concerning Syria’s future must be decided by the Syrians themselves, without outside interference or the imposition of ready-made recipes for development,” the ministry said.

No country has stepped forward to intervene with direct military force in the Syrian conflict, and rebel forces have made it clear that they do not intended to end the fighting with Assad still in power. Moving into the third year of fighting, Assad seems content to let the war play out, so long as there is a possibility that his regime will outlast the rebels.

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