Syria war winds down but tangled map belies conflict ahead

BEIRUT (AP) — The war in Syria seems to be winding down nearly seven years into the conflict, largely because of Russian-backed government victories and local cease-fires aimed at freezing the lines of conflict.

Underscoring this perception is the fact that President Bashar Assad — however battered and bruised — has survived the war, sitting more comfortably now than at any time since the rebellion against his rule erupted in March 2011.

Yet Syria is still a tangled mess, with fighting likely to continue for the foreseeable future and the parties no closer to reaching a peace settlement, despite the stepped-up diplomatic efforts.

The opposition — down but not out — has not completely abandoned its goal of toppling him militarily. Meanwhile, another humanitarian catastrophe unfolds in a government-besieged just outside Damascus.