More bad news for Assad:

Hundreds of army defectors in southern Syria have fought with tank-backed loyalist forces in one of the biggest armed confrontations in a nine-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, residents and activists said.

Troops, mainly from the 12th Armoured Brigade, based in Isra, 40km from the border with Jordan, stormed the nearby town of Busra al-Harir, the Reuters news agency reported.

The sound of explosions and heavy machine guns was heard in Busra al-Harir and in Lujah, an area of rocky hills north of the town, where defectors have been hiding and attacking military supply lines.

A few hundred defectors is an encouraging sign. A few thousand, even more so. However, tens of thousands will need to not only defect but fight under a central authority, such as the Free Syrian Army, for opposition forces to have any hope of holding territory. Even more resources will be needed for an actual advance.

Meanwhile there’s word that Assad’s forces are massing for an assault on Homs. The impact of that, if it occurs, will be significant. The international community’s diplomatic and military timetables will, at the very least, be condensed. Direct military intervention may not be right around the corner but expect a rapid fire series of moves from the international community if this assult gets underway.

Assad is in a very tough place at the moment. He can either pull back, and let the forces aligned against him build (and eventually do him in) or he can go all in and at least try to dictate the pace of an unavoidable conflict. Of course, he could also just walk away, settle down in Tehran perhaps, but that never seems to be part of the equation for these monsters.

Recommend on Twitter: @USEmbassySyria – The official Twitter of the U.S. Embassy in Syria.

Follow developments in Syria with the Blogs of War Syria Monitor at http://syria.blogsofwar.com.



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