Many believed 2012 would be Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's last year in power, but at the outset of 2013 the conflict appears locked in a stalemate with alarming fatality rates.
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The Syrian civil war entered its third calendar year with rebel forces displaying increased military prowess but still lacking adequate weapons and organization to gain a decisive edge over government forces.
At the outset of 2012, many observers predicted it would be President Bashar al-Assad's last year, but now in 2013 the conflict appears locked in a stalemate with alarming fatality rates.
According to UK-based opposition group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 85 percent of the roughly 45,000 Syrians they estimate have been killed since the uprising began in March 2011 were killed in 2012. CNN reports that United Nations envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi expects that number to climb.
"Do not expect just 25,000 people to die next year – maybe 100,000 will die," he said earlier this week. "The pace is increasing."
The opposition Local Coordination Committees told CNN that at least 136 people were killed yesterday, the first day of the year, alone. There were clashes in eight provinces, the heaviest in and around the capital of Damascus and Aleppo.
Aerial bombardments by the Syrian Air Force have been responsible for many of those 45,000 fatalities. In rebel-controlled northwestern Syria, a strip of land running between Aleppo and the Turkish border, rebel forces have made it a priority to take over aviation facilities to rob the Air Force of its ability to bomb the area. They consider the regime's air power its "main threat" because they can do little to stop attacks by helicopters and jets, even in territory they hold on the ground.