The following is a translation of a scathing article on the state of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) that appeared in an online outlet Gazeta.ru, which is Kremlin-controlled but sometimes critical of the Russian authorities online. The author is a retired Russian officer with eight years of experience working in the General Staff and five years as an editor of an established military magazine. The article, originally titled “It would be easier to disband the Syrian army and recruit a new one,” mirrors the emerging Syria fatigue sentiments in the Russian military circles and reportedly was confirmed by a serving Russian colonel, who added “Everything is like it’s written but worse.” The expert notably omits mentioning regime war crimes even when describing the use of barrel bombs. Throughout the text, he calls Syrian rebels “militants” and “illegal armed groups” — terms widely used by Russian military and media to describe Chechen fighters during the wars. This anti-rebel stance perhaps lends even more credibility to the author’s assessment of their capabilities versus those of the SAA.
While militias, Iranian volunteers, Hezbollah and PMCs fight in lieu of the Syrian army, Bashar Assad’s soldiers busy themselves with collecting bribes at checkpoints. This view becomes more and more widespread among military experts aware of the actual situation in Syria. The country’s air force is worn down and uses home-made bombs, the soldiers dig moats to protect from terrorists’ tunnels, while the militants enjoy tactical and moral superiority, says Mikhail Khodarenok, Gazeta.ru’s military observer.
The pro-government forces are likely to capture the city of Aleppo soon. However, it remains doubtful if this will bring the end of the Syrian war closer. In Middle Eastern wars, there is no single building to plant a flag on that would make the enemy surrender unconditionally.
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