The rebels are getting anti-aircraft missiles and, as these weapons show up in one area after another, the Syrian Air Force must bomb from a higher altitude. This means much less accurate attacks since the government does not have smart bombs. Fewer rebel fighters and more civilians are being hit.
The army still has several bases that are cut off from ground supply and surrounded by rebels. The soldiers under siege are demoralized and many surrender the first chance they get (away from officers who might shoot them). Losing these bases is bad for morale, as is the fact that the army keeps losing everywhere, while getting more and more bad publicity for air force attacks that kill mostly civilians. While most Alawites are still determined to fight to the end no matter what, a growing number are seeking another way out of this mess.
While Sunni Arabs from many nations have come to fight for the rebels, many Shia Arabs are being encountered fighting for the government. These include Hezbollah men from Lebanon and Iraqi Shia from pro-Iranian militias in Iraq. Hezbollah has been firing rockets across the border into rebel held Syrian villages. Rebels claim that thousands of Hezbollah gunmen have moved into Syria to fight for the Assad dictatorship. Meanwhile Iranians are taking over the task of providing bodyguards for senior members of the Assad government. Too many Syrians, including a growing number of Shia, want the Assads gone and the Iranian bodyguards give the Iranians some more leverage on the Assads. But Iran is basically tied to a lost cause.
Turkish artillery continues to fire a few shells into Syria each day, to discourage more Syrian fire into Turkey, including five killed on the 3rd. So far this month over a dozen Turkish civilians have been killed or wounded by this Syrian Army fire. Return fire by Turkish artillery has caused the Syrians to try very hard to not fire in the direction of Turkey (despite the many rebel bases just across the border in Turkey).
Most Syrian rebel groups have agreed to join a new military coalition that would coordinate their efforts in taking down the Assad government. The main rebel military organization, the FSA (Free Syrian Army) is largely for supplying rebel fighters inside Syria. The FSA is based in Turkey and has less and less control over combat leaders inside Syria. Turkey and Qatar were behind this new deal, and applied a lot of pressure to get many different rebels groups to agree. But the deal has not been signed yet and may not be for another week or two. Meanwhile, the FSA is constantly assuring donors that the Islamic radical groups are under control. But everyone agrees that such control is partial and not complete. The general belief is that, once the rebellion is over, the Islamic terrorists will go back to attacking those that disagree with them (which includes almost everyone in the world).
October 22, 2012: A Jordanian soldier was killed when his unit encountered a group of armed men trying to cross the border into Syria and a gun battle broke out. The twelve armed men were arrested. This was the first death of a soldier on the border since the Syrian civil war began. It’s increasingly common for Sunni Arabs in Jordan to join the rebels, usually after obtaining weapons in Jordan (which means they can’t cross legally).
Elsewhere in Jordan police arrested 11 men and charged them with being Islamic terrorists planning to attack targets in Jordan. The arrested men had obtained mortars and assault rifles smuggled in from Syria. This was blamed on the growing number of Islamic terrorist groups operating in Syria, who continue to support worldwide Islamic rule. While these groups work with the rebels, they also plan to take over Syria after the rebel victory and turn Syria into a religious dictatorship. In the meantime, the Islamic terrorists support violence in neighboring countries. A lot of the aid for the rebels, coming from groups in Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Gulf states, is earmarked for Islamic radical groups only. This is causing problems for countries bordering Syria, where Islamic terrorists are not welcome.
October 21, 2012: A car bomb went off in a Christian neighborhood of the capital, near police headquarters, killing 13 and wounding many more. This was the first bombing directed at Christians, who are five percent of the populations and have generally sided with the Assads.
October 20, 2012: In Lebanon there was gunfire in the capital as a large anti-Syrian demonstration took place, protesting the death of an anti-Syrian security official the day before. Lebanon has long been divided over Syria. The Shia minority (about 40 percent of the population) favored the Assad dictatorship in Syria. Most Lebanese are hostile to Syria, in part because Syria occupied most of the country from 1990 to 2005, as part of the peace deal that ended the 1975-90 civil war. The Syrians used the occupation to aid Hezbollah and operate many criminal enterprises (some of which remained after Syrian troops were forced by Lebanese and Syrian pressure to leave in 2005). Another reason for anti-Syrian sentiments is the desire by many Syrians to make Lebanon part of Syria again. Over the last two thousand years, that was often the case. But for most of the last century Lebanon has been independent and most Lebanese want to keep it that way.
October 19, 2012: A bomb went off in a Christian neighborhood in the Lebanese capital, killing a senior security official (and seven others) who was openly anti-Assad. This angered many Lebanese who are still bitter about decades of Syrian interference in Lebanese affairs. Police arrested a former government official (Michel Samaha), long known as pro-Syria, and accused him of planning the operation. Police say Michel Samaha admitted he transported explosives from Syria in his own automobile.
October 18, 2012: Warplanes bombed a residential area of Maaret Al Numan (a town near the Turkish border that the rebels captured nine days ago) and killed over 40 civilians. One bomb hit a mosque, where women and children had gone to seek shelter from the air raids. In the capital a suicide bomber detonated his explosives near the Interior Ministry, but he was the only casualty.
October 17, 2012: Syrian airliners have been banned from operating at EU (the 27 member European Union) airports. Syrian airliners can still fly through EU airspace and can land if there is an emergency. This is yet another effort by the EU to force the Assad government to halt its attacks on Syrian civilians.
Outside the northern town of Maaret Al Numan rebels shot down a Syrian air force helicopter.