Amid Setbacks, Assad's Grip Loosens

NATO set to approve Patriot missiles for Turkish border
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2012 3:42 AM CST
Updated Dec 4, 2012 7:56 AM CST

(Newser) – Bashar al-Assad's regime has survived many claims of being near collapse during Syria's 20-month uprising, but a series of setbacks has left the Syrian leader more isolated than ever, the New York Times reports. Rebels are gaining ground in multiple areas and President Obama has sternly warned the regime against using chemical weapons.

  • NATO is poised to send Patriot missiles to Turkey's increasingly volatile border with Syria, the BBC reports. Diplomats say NATO ministers will agree to "augment Turkey's air defenses," though a US State Department official cautions that the move does not mark "an inexorable move towards a no-fly zone" over Syria.

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  • As fighting raged around Damascus, a senior Turkish official said Russia had agreed to a new diplomatic push to get Assad to relinquish power. But Russian political analysts say Assad has lost hope of escape and only an "extremely bold" proposal could get him out of the country. "His mood is that he will be killed anyway," the analyst says.
  • A Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman who was one of the regime's most public faces has fled the country, Reuters reports. Sources say Jihad al-Makdissi defected after being fired for making statements that did not reflect the government's position—and referring to weapons that the regime hasn't officially confirmed that it has.
(Read more Syria stories.)

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