People would love nothing more than to define the situation in Syria in black and white terms. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A brief search on the topic shows that Syria is made up of many factions and groups, most are tied to neighboring countries. This is no simple matter of Shia against Sunni like Iraq and I believe the solution will be far more complicated. A general idea of the population break down is as follows:
The population of Syria is 74% Sunni, 12% Alawi, 10% Christian and 3% Druze.
Add to this an influx of 1.3 million people from Iraq in the last few years due to the war most of whom are Sunni but about 25% Shia. And this is what makes up the Free Syrian Army (the rebels). I guess nothing brings people together like the hate of an oppressive dictator. But a brief side note: The Alawis are a group mainly in the northern part of the country from whom Assad was born and is aligned with much like Sadr city where Saddam Hussein was born in Iraq.
A full breakdown of Syrian demographics
For us to try and go in and take over would be near to if not impossible. Current reports are that more Iranian fighters are in the country doing Assads' dirty work. It seems to be a standing order to shoot anything that moves when taking over a town and I do mean anything including dogs and cats. The tactics of the FSA have been what you'd expect from a group that's trying but is out manned and out gunned. Just how they have been able to maintain a cohesive force against such odds is nothing short of a miracle. But they aren't really winning. On an average day over 100 citizens are slaughtered by tank and rocket attacks that is if they aren't dropped by a snipers' bullet first. And for what? For peaceful protests? I've seen more rowdy protests after a football match in the UK.
Exactly how Assad thinks he can win this situation is anyones' guess because even if he were successful in crushing this rebellion the evidence of his atrocities are the many many videos and groups documenting his actions. And then there are the defectors who were once ordered to shoot innocent civilians including women and children. Any of these groups would be more than happy to testify at a trial at the Haig but I know it will never get that far. Just how long it will take to pressure Russia into doing the right thing from a humanitarian standpoint we'll have to wait and see. In the mean time as this slaughter continues world opinion and pressure will mount.