June 26th, 2012
05:57 PM ET

U.S. sees stalemate in Syrian fighting

By Barbara Starr

U.S. intelligence officials are describing the fighting in Syria as currently a stalemate between the regime and opposition forces, but those officials continue to believe Bashar al-Assad will eventually be forced from power.

"It doesn't seem either side is in a position to prevail or dominate," said a senior U.S. intelligence official. "We are looking at a protracted conflict."

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.

Officials are describing a "seesaw battle" between regime and opposition forces. The opposition forces have improved their tactics - using fresh supplies of small arms, they have increasingly attacked government checkpoint and facilities; and engaging in hit-and-run operations, according to the intelligence officials. But the regime is using brutal militias loyal to al-Assad to carry out atrocities, and is using so-called "combined arms" strategies of attacking with artillery and helicopters.

The officials said the intelligence community has looked at alternatives that could emerge in Syria such as civil war or increased sectarian violence. They suggest its also possible Sunni elites and Alawi Christians could join forces in an effort to "save themselves" if Syria begins to implode. At the moment there is no evidence minorities such as the Christians, Druze or Kurds are joining the opposition in larger numbers. The U.S. believes the opposition forces now numbers between 10,000 and 15,000.

Even though the officials characterized the current state of affairs as a stalemate, it's still believed al-Assad will be forced out of office, officials say. The officials emphasized they see overall a "downward trend" for the regime, in line with the White House view that at the end of the day al-Assad will leave office.

They say they simply cannot put a time frame on it, but they say the Syrian government is facing a much broader opposition.

"It's hard for me to see how the regime could restore the status quo ante," one of the officials said.

As the opposition improves, the regime has stepped up its attacks, as evidenced by recent atrocities. The officials say the United States still "could be surprised" by a "misstep" from either side, but barring that, the U.S. belief is that the conflict simply will "continue for some period of time."

"Both sides seem to be girding for a long struggle. The regime still believes it can prevail, but at the same time opposition is preparing for a long fight," one official said.

As for the al-Assad government, U.S. intelligence officials said the regime inner circle and high-level government and military are still holding firm.

Al-Assad's government had an estimated $17 billion to $20 billion in foreign reserves when conflict began; U.S. officials don't know what the holdings are currently.

While fuel and food shortages continue throughout the country, the government is making sure troops are paid and provided for in order to maintain loyalty. For the population at large, U.S. officials do not believe the shortages have reached catastrophic levels, but Syrian civilians are having difficulty procuring essentials.

soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. gamersliverfang

    I live in Canada, and no i am not Syrian, but i am sick of people falling for the propaganda like you are as people did in Libya's war.

    July 1, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Reply
  2. LRoz

    This article goes off the rails right from the start. It says : One alternative is for Sunni Muslims and Alawi Christians ...??? The Alawi are a branch of Shia Islam....They are the religion of the ruling assad clan, and as a minority sect in predominantly Sunni Syria, they have been calling the political shots for decades....Get it straight !!

    June 28, 2012 at 7:04 am | Reply
    • KEVIN

      LRoz, are you a Crypt or a Blood? Or maybe a democrat or republican. Or maybe a Catholic or Protestant. Or maybe a New Yorker or Californian. Or maybe an AA or NA. Or maybe a blond or brunett. Or maybe an American or Canadian. Or maybe simplistic or complex. Or maybe objective or insightful ect.ect.........

      June 28, 2012 at 7:34 am | Reply
  3. KEVIN

    I can't help it, but I love the basis of this report: " US intelligent officials who will only speak on condition of anonymity". This is the CIA. The CIA can often be unintelligent (i.e. Jewish FBI agent travelling alone in Iran, drone crash in Iran). The CIA's main mission is to put out only information that supports US interests. Of course they function at a much higher level then I (maybe). But our media needs to take this into consideration and at least print that the information cannot be verified and may be fabricated

    June 28, 2012 at 5:52 am | Reply
    • sam kohen

      I think they were Buddihst

      June 28, 2012 at 6:58 am | Reply
      • KEVIN

        sam, the CIA or the journalists? Frankly, Buddhists are the only logical people in the world

        June 28, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  4. KEVIN

    I met with 3 US intelligent officials who would only speak to me on condition of anyonimity. They told me that they were in the process of disclosing political spin to the media by presenting themselves as very exclusively leaking super secret intilligence information. I replied to them; "what do I look like? A journalist?"

    June 28, 2012 at 4:09 am | Reply
    • Leif

      Kevin: I met with three therapists who said that you should take your meds.

      June 28, 2012 at 4:21 am | Reply
      • KEVIN

        Leif, my Psychiatrist told me if I have any further problems I should take it out on anynomous US intelligent officials (I think she got burned out with me).

        June 28, 2012 at 4:53 am |
  5. KEVIN

    I love hearing our ruminating rationalization for involving ouselves militarily in another country: "Human Rights Abuses" If this was of utmost concern to us, we would have 500,000 troops all over just Africa.

    June 28, 2012 at 3:33 am | Reply
  6. KEVIN

    I love the articles pretence that the US intelligence officials are talking on condition of anyonimity. It's called political spin (whether right or wrong). It's more than odvious that we wish the "rebels" to win and it is we who are supplying them arms. But I strongly suspect that 80% of the Syrian population supports Assad (and Russia and China know this)

    June 28, 2012 at 3:21 am | Reply
  7. GaryGuillermo

    Just what we need . . . another Arab war.

    June 28, 2012 at 1:23 am | Reply
    • Leif

      As opposed to the European wars of the 20th century that resulted in the deaths of millions?

      June 28, 2012 at 4:26 am | Reply
  8. blessedgeek

    The author writes about "Alawi Christians". What is an "Alawi Christian"?

    I think Alawis are cryto-Christians. I think they secretly practice Nestorianism and "dissumulate" into Shiite Islam when convenient. Why then do they celebrate Christmas, and other Christian holy days and honour a hos of Christian saints? They don't respect Sharia, they don't observe halal food. Their religious rituals require the partaking of wine.

    For this, they were persecuted for centuries until the rise of the Assad family. So before y'all clamor our govt to help Turkey kick them out, think twice. Their liberal religion and observance of eastern christian saints and holy days make them a friend of Russia.

    Their religious syncretization and vacillation managed to get Shiite Iran as a friend. Through out the centuries, their allegiances and religious declarations shifted for the sake of their survival.

    Research further into these people before letting those war-hungry Republicans pressure our military into helping NATO/Turkey into displacing them from power. May be Russia is right – don't do anything there now.

    June 27, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Reply
    • pack your shet betch

      i wanna see more babies killed and the whole worl just and just watching... betches all you guys dio is watch and do nothing packing betches. you guys dont do shet. why dont you do something. play call of duty and start shooting at civilians at the airport map. remember? it would be fun to be assad and nobody will try to kill you. nobody give a shet anyways.. why report... next topic

      June 28, 2012 at 1:12 am | Reply
    • KEVIN

      bless, Alawi Christians are Catholics who only go to church on Christmas and Easter

      June 28, 2012 at 3:45 am | Reply
  9. really

    Stalemate? Great!! Let the terrorists and the fascists kill each other forever.

    June 27, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Reply
    • KEVIN

      really, they are multiple, multiple, multiple diff. sects and tribes who will fight and kill each other ad infitem

      June 28, 2012 at 3:48 am | Reply
  10. sultan hamid

    why is cnn not reporting about rebels(sponsored by america) desacreting churches?plenty of pictures available on russia today dot com.

    June 27, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Reply
    • KEVIN

      sultan,excellent observation. Simple answer. America wants to rule Syria (Russia and China know this). Our media is disgustingly afraid to publically disclose this. (our culture has regressed into fear of even freedom of the press since 9-11)

      June 28, 2012 at 3:53 am | Reply
  11. josecanusee

    Saeed is banging syrian wife after the water pipe goes out

    June 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  12. melvin polatnick

    Medieval Muslim officers had a sharpened wooden tent peg dangling from their belts; it was believed that when it broke an infidel’s sphincter the evil one would forever obey Sharia Law. Islam is an art of submission, the use of the holy tent peg will again cause millions who are contaminated with pride to bow in reverence to the great one.

    June 27, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Reply
    • AmericanPride

      nut job.

      June 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  13. Barry G.

    We can thank Russia (Dictator Putin) for the stalemate.

    Russia has placed higher value on their economic interests and their military base than on the lives of the Syrians.

    My heart goes out to the good people of Syria. I will remember you in my prayers.

    June 27, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Reply
    • Syrian Wife

      Thank God for Russia to have enough sense to use the veto and remind everyone to keep their nose in their own country and stay out of others. Syria does not need or want "Help" from any country to fight its war –

      June 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Reply
      • jrzydvl

        I'm sure Syria does not wnat "help". Maybe the civilians that are bieng killed do. What would have happened if France had acted similarly 200 years ago ? People just got to be free

        June 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
      • footnote

        Just wondering, if you are the so call Syrian Wife is al-Assad's real wife. Too bad you can't go to England for shopping chandeliers for $16.000, while your countryman are dying and running for their life into my homeland for cover. Asma you should start learning some russian and start packing you baskets for mosk-ow with your long neck and empty headed husband.

        June 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
      • KEVIN

        Syrian, Russia and China know what America is up to: Geo-expansionism. It is fascinating that Russia and China have abondoned utilizing military means to practice expansion of their influence. They know it is archaric and especially in the ME. They know we are idiots to utilize physical means to influence the ME as we are just lowering ourselves to their archiac ways to attempt to resolve their own conflicts. Americans are idiots, we forgot about MAD and we are just throwing the lives away of our soldiers.(more Americans died in these wars than died in 9-11) We are idiots

        June 28, 2012 at 5:18 am |
    • cusack76

      Well the US always does the same... and any other country for that matter, China, you name it. Thats big politics for you.
      Besides, this is civil war – there are also people on the other side, those who support Assad. Let's not be that simplistic and only see one side of the story.
      US watch already reported that both sides commit atrocities.

      June 27, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Reply
    • smokescreen2012

      we can thank the USA for helping escalate the situation by arming the opposition.If Russia is guilty of not caring about Syrian civilians,we can blame the US for caring more about foreign policy than the lives of our soldiers.

      June 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Reply
    • oldesalt

      Don't think for a moment that the USA has not put economic intrests above the lives of innocent civilians.

      June 27, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Reply
    • jOSH p.

      Really,I don,t ever remember Russia having death squads in South America to help thugs like Pinochet among others torture his own people,keep thinking that we are better then Russia,in the meantime we are the ones committing atrocities worldwide,Google school of the Americas and operation condor,ok idiot.

      June 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Reply
    • KEVIN

      Barry, replace the word "Russia" with the word "America" and I would agree with your statement

      June 28, 2012 at 4:24 am | Reply
  14. Willie12345

    Not to worry, Hillary is handling it.

    June 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Reply
    • KEVIN

      Williy, Hillary is going to have the chess game of the century just dealing with Russia: Russia has multiple diff. political leaders who are at each other throats. Putin knows how to deal with it, but it is political quick sand pit for a secretary of state. Because of how Putin works, it is only Obama who can work with Putin constructively in geo-political matters.

      June 28, 2012 at 4:34 am | Reply
  15. gamersliverfang

    CNN The Rebel Spokesperson and inline front and center, its no wonder why CNN is losing its viewers.

    (The U.S. believes the opposition forces now numbers between 10,000 and 15,000)

    Then yet.

    (the regime inner circle and high-level government and military are still holding firm. )


    Even though the officials characterized the current state of affairs as a stalemate, it's still believed al-Assad will be forced out of office, officials say

    Like who Sen John McCain? Barbara Starr? people aren't buying the war propaganda Barbara.

    When the rebels attacked the news channel there was no excuse for them to attack and kill 7 employers of the station wherever Pro Government or not they had no right.

    And they even planted explosives to kill the rest?

    Just who side are you Barbara Starr and America working for?

    June 27, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Reply
    • Syrian Wife

      Thank God there is someone else on here who has a brain!

      June 27, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Reply
      • footnote

        Glad that your chicken brain still has not exploded. Perhaps this is your last campaign.

        June 27, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • smokescreen2012

      war propaganda indeed-the US gov't is out of control--they want war,and more war--they see no other alternative than to go to arms against everyone who challenges them--the warmongers in the White House seek to fulfill their own agendas,and risk american lives to do it.

      June 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Reply
    • gamersliverfang



      Glad that your chicken brain still has not exploded. Perhaps this is your last campaign.)

      Excuse me?

      And were you replying to me? i am not Syrian i can see still who watches CNN bunch of unstable people and even trolls who cant even think for themeslevs.

      Thats why they turn to the falling rating CNN news news outlet right?

      And i guess you view the rebels as little angels and holy saints who wouldnt harm a fly right?

      June 28, 2012 at 6:01 am | Reply
      • footnote

        Who are you and what you are fighting for-cnnn's ratings watch dog or syrian regim's ratings observer from abroad. Not syrian, hold on you are PKK member.

        June 28, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
      • gamersliverfang

        Its clear that your mentally ill, i am just pointing out the obvious on whats going in Sryia if you cant see the pragaodno that CNN is playing or trying to do is, its clear on what your agenda.

        And no i am not PKK, nice try with the insult.

        July 1, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  16. John

    What on Earth is an "Alawi Christian"??

    June 27, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  17. Flyover

    Syria is none this country's business.

    June 27, 2012 at 10:45 am | Reply
  18. Sameer

    United Nations is such a bad joke.

    June 27, 2012 at 10:32 am | Reply
    • Socrates

      I agree with your statement, however, it is not so simple. If you read the regulations of the UN and the system it has on the veto power of some countries you will understand better.

      June 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  19. Jay

    Bashar al-Assad is a murdering tyrant who cares for nothing but his power. Lest he rot in the Hague.

    June 27, 2012 at 10:05 am | Reply
    • FHTEX

      Al-Assad is actually the good guy in all of this. There have been three sets of democratic elections since December and millions have poured into the strets of Damascus, Aleppo, and other large cities. The true murderers are the Al Qaeda fanatical elements within the rebel oppopsition. I thought we were supposed to be fighting them ... isn;'t that what 911 was all about?

      June 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Reply
      • siroos

        Assad is the good guy, and Hitler was a freedom fighter and Khomeini was human rights advocate, I think you should start finding your self a new job

        June 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
      • kevin

        we must get those rebel oppopsition out of the strets!!

        June 27, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  20. kriss

    Our intervention may be morally correct because we value human life but We cannot help countries who cannot help themselves. Even if we help they go back to the same corrupt regimes. We cannot be the policemen to every country. We need to take care of ourselves. Not sure what is happening in Iraq. They may be colluding with Iran because ultimately religious sentiments people weigh in and not common sense.

    June 27, 2012 at 9:54 am | Reply
    • Jeroen Haan

      Your intervention morally correct? Well history proves the USA moral is inhumane. Just follow the money.

      June 27, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Reply
  21. Yaz

    As a Syrian Christian, let me call out CNN on their misinformation here. There is absolutely no such thing as an Alawi Christian in Syria. Alawites are the minority Muslim group already in power. Christians are just Christians. And, as far as this is crisis is concerned, the majority of the Christians of Syria will NEVER save themselves by joining the opposition. Bashar Al Assad is the one protecting the minorities, and the Christians fully support him.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:44 am | Reply
    • Tomas

      How can a Christian support someone who sends armed gangs to cut throats of women and children?

      June 27, 2012 at 9:24 am | Reply
      • CorrectionMan

        Those incidents were independently investigated by German journalists and found to be the handiwork of the opposition, not of government forces. Remember: the opposition counts Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood as part of their members. I love it how the uninformed think the opposition is made up of democracy loving, tolerant secular people when they are actually religious fanatics who want a theocracy, and will stab/explode/torch anything and anyone to attain it. The U.S. should never have armed those lunatics.

        June 27, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
      • jOSH p.

        Keep believe in the propaganda bunch of idiots,I am quite certain that you believe that Qaddafi was giving his troops Viagra as well,no wonder our government feel that they can tell us any nonsense story and we,ll believe it.
        While I am at it,do any of you idiot know what happened to the used car salesman who was to assassinate the Saudi ambassador.

        June 27, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Byzantine

      Yaz is correct. An Alawi is a muslim – just listen to the name Ali – wi – The folllowers of Ali. You cant be Alawi and a Christian at the same time. CNN should get this right. As far as ALL Syrian Christians supporting Assad...Im not so sure about that. While the Orthodox church officially does, many members do not.

      June 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Reply
    • John

      No matter which side wins, the Christians will suffer the most.

      June 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Reply
  22. PJ

    The USA must stay out of it. We can't help everyone and we are tired of trying to civilize Arabs. It wont happen this century.

    June 27, 2012 at 7:56 am | Reply
    • Nadbash

      There are plenty of civilized arabs. Unfortunately most of them live in the United States or Europe.

      June 27, 2012 at 8:53 am | Reply
    • Jeroen Haan

      What an arrogance!

      June 27, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Reply
    • pack your shet betch

      you need to be civilized. have you been to bahrain, dubai, qatar, saudi arabia? i just went there a couple months ago. they act like theyre more civilized than you. what an idiot.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:06 am | Reply
  23. saeedsucks

    @ saeed So you say, you kill children and rape women? Well why don't we nuke that little cake upon your neck? Maybe it'll fix your grammar... moron

    June 27, 2012 at 12:23 am | Reply
  24. Brad Williams

    I agree and I am not from the U.S.

    Assad is the mastermind of his own demise. He drove to a fork on the road, one that would lead to a peaceful compromise and real democarcy, but he took the dark, old road. Bye, bye, Assad.

    June 26, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Reply
  25. saeed

    i hope usa starts a war its time someone nukes britain and usa let true justice be served let justice be served for the 77 million native americans let justice be served for the 99 million africans. usa and britain wants a bigger piece of the cake and i see go to hell its my cake its nothing in it in the end for russia or china or brazil or iran or india. i say come on if you want a fight we give you one we turn your childeren into charcoal dust we rape and kill your women and behead them we.

    June 26, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      Your an idiot

      June 27, 2012 at 5:23 am | Reply
    • Jay

      You are evil and sick in the head.

      June 27, 2012 at 10:07 am | Reply
    • Enlil

      Saeed, I am 100% sure you are one of Al Assad militia. This is exactly how they speak (total nonsense but plenty of filth and sick threats). The more you feel your days are over the nastier you become. Let me say it to you in Arabic (tfoo–spit) on your face.

      June 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Reply
      • Jeroen Haan

        Rather the religious fanatics of the opposition...

        June 27, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • siroos

      Wait a moment is this a confession from the Ass-sadist, I would say this clearly shows the method of the brutal regime of Syria, its your desperation that gives you up, long live to the brave Syrian people may they be free to choose what they want

      June 27, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Reply
    • oldesalt

      Saeed... have you considered anger management classes?

      June 27, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Reply

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