Except for the northern city of ar-Raqqah, which Da'Äsh turned into what the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar on last November 8 defined as " Syria's answer to (Afghanistan's) Kandahar -- the birthplace of the Taliban" since the rebels stormed the city early last March, the Syrian state maintains control and presence in all the major cities.
But the official Arab Syrian Army had been on the defensive for some two years since the eruption of the insurgency in 2011. It needed this time to adapt, train and allocate counter insurgency units to fight in irregular city wars.
Since its strategic victory in al-Qaseer early last June it has gone on the offensive and is rapidly gaining more ground and achieving successive successes ever since.
However, the insurgency bears the main responsibility,
mainly during the "defensive" interval, for the civilian plight; waves of
refugees and displaced people came out from the areas under their control to
find refuge either in government held cities or across the nearest borders with
neighboring states. The latest largest wave of refugees of the Syrian Kurds
The fact that the Syrian state and government were reacting rather than acting against the insurgency is now coming to light. This fact is explained better by the UK-based opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which reported on this December 3 that it had documented the death of (50,927) government soldiers versus (36228) insurgents including (6261) non-Syrian fighters.
Rebel infiltration into countryside towns and villages was the main reason for more than two million internally displaced civilians who left their homes as soon as they could out of fear either of the rebels themselves and their practices or the inevitable government retaliation. They were taken care of by the government in government shelters.
In addition to Christians and other minorities targeted by the rebels who posture as the defenders of Sunni Islam, most of the refugees and those displaced are Sunni Muslim Syrians and more than one million of them are hosted by their compatriot Alawites in the west of the country, a fact that refutes the narrative of the US government and media about a "civil" and "sectarian" war in the country.
* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. Email address removed