Det kalles en utmattelseskrig – a war of attrition. Den syriske regjeringshæren er ved å bli utslitt. Da synker moralen. Det hjelper heller ikke at den lider av mannskapsmangel. For mange er drept. Det er ikke nok unge menn klare til å fylle tomrommene.
Assad-regimet kan falle. IS kan bli herre over Syria. Det er et perspektiv som burde få det til å gå kaldt nedover ryggen på noen og enhver.
Da vil kalifatet få en annen og tyngre betydning.
IS tok Palmyra denne uken fordi regjeringssoldatene var utslitt og offiserene flyktet og soldatene løp tomme for ammunisjon.
New York Times-journalister var i Palmyra for et år siden og knyttet mange kontakter, kontakter de har opprettholdt og nå kunne bruke til å skaffe seg informasjon.
The Syrian Army soldier had long served in Palmyra, but he was on leave when he heard that Islamic State militants had attacked a village northeast of the desert city, killing dozens of his comrades. He sent frantic text messages, trying to reach them. No one answered.
He shared his anguish last week in a series of texts as he slowly pieced together bits of the story from survivors of the massacre. Soldiers told him they had run out of ammunition. One officer radioed to headquarters, “We’re finished.” Worst of all, the soldier said, was the photograph he was shown of the decapitated body of a friend, the 19-year-old daughter of a Syrian general.
Palmyra was a place where tensions had long simmered, a mainly Sunni tribal city where a local rebellion was put down early in the war, and where relations between residents and security forces were complex. A young officer serving there from the Alawite heartland had confessed a year earlier that he felt no connection to the population and feared residents would kill him the first chance they had.
Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, Iraq’s Sunni heartland, was also divided in its loyalties.
Når oppløsningen setter inn mister folk tillit til regimet. Alt blir kaos. Det var det som skjedde. Folk og soldater lurte på hvorfor ikke Assad eller koalisjonen bombet IS på flat mark, før de nådde Palmyra. De må krysse åpent terreng.
Det sprer seg en følelse av nederlag og undergang. Panikk bryter ut.
Residents — supporters and opponents of President Bashar al-Assad — described officers fleeing, leaving civilians and lowly conscript soldiers to fend for themselves. One business owner said he watched pro-government militiamen run helter-skelter into orchards, not sure where to retreat. “Treason,” he called it.
Residents videotaped airstrikes coming close to the town’s medieval citadel and wondered why the militants had not been bombed earlier — by the government or, for that matter, by the United States-led coalition waging a parallel air war against them — while they were traversing miles of open desert roads.
Sivilbefolkningen har ingen sted å ta veien. Torsdag kveld begynte henrettelsene.
But most of all, they said, they had lost any sense that the government could provide safety even to its loyalists. On Thursday, after the militants had taken over the city and begun executing people they deemed close to the government, many residents cowered in their houses and basements, terrified of militants in the streets and of government shelling and airstrikes from the sky.