"It is unlikely that these victories for the rebels will spur America to increase its modest support for them, especially around Idleb, where Jabhat al-Nusra is the strongest force. The southern rebels have received more help, since they have fewer jihadists in their ranks and are less fragmented. But an American plan to train and equip 5,000 vetted men has still to get going. On March 27th Turkey said that the Americans had delayed their plans to start training there, for unspecified reasons.
So Syria’s fate may depend ever more on how well Mr Assad’s regime hangs together—and on Iran. His army and paramilitary forces often clash. Hizbullah men talk of Syrian soldiers firing on them. Syrian soldiers, in turn, are annoyed by Iranian and Hizbullah checkpoints set up to ensure that they stay in line. Syrian soldiers have long found understandings with rebels; sometimes they agree not to fight, while the rebels sometimes buy ammunition from the soldiers. Overall, Mr Assad’s position is being hollowed out. “The regime is in charge of administrative matters,” says the same Damascus man. “But Iran is ever more in control militarily.”
That could pave the way to negotiations, since it still seems unlikely that either side will win militarily. Iran’s rulers may be more pragmatic than Mr Assad, who wants to cling to power at any cost. There are signs that they see him as a burden; Hizbullah certainly does. If nuclear talks with Iran come good, some Syrians hope for a solution in their own country. “We’ll get rid of Mr Assad at some point,” says a Hizbullah commander. “I think Iran is just waiting until the right time.” "