Are Warlords Replacing Assad’s Police State?
They’re so powerful the Russians are giving them medals. German journalists report that to prop up his embattled Syrian regime, Bashar Assad has allowed warlords to smuggle, kidnap and murder their way to power in key government-held areas. In particular, the Tiger Forces and the Desert Hawks, paying fighters better than the army, compete to dominate a fearful population in urban centers like Homs and Latakia, while Assad’s regular troops and allies reclaim contested areas. But one Tiger commander reputedly smuggles supplies to ISIS, and such groups’ sway may persist even if Assad prevails.