Since the Revolution began in 2011 the Syrian Army has been blighted by defections, desertions and combat fatalities across the country. As a result, those allied to the Syrian regime have filled the gap and the Assad regime now relies on many militia groups as their ground-forces. Most are non-Syrian, many are Shia jihadis, paid for and commanded by Iran. These militia are highly sectarian. Following a programme known as “Shiaization”, they “Shia-ize” areas they occupy, focussing usually on the mosques.

Often these ground-forces do not know the terrain and cannot hold it sufficiently, which is why the regime is so dependent on heavy shelling from the air & by ground. Airstrikes & shelling follow a scorched-earth policy, destroying entire areas including essential infrastructure, forcedly displacing the civilian population.

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