LATEST: Former UN Envoy Brahimi: “Syria Will Become Another Somalia” as Assad Refuses to Leave

The battle for the strategic town of Mleha, east of Damascus, continues without resolution.

Regime forces have tried for months to capture the town, which is the “gateway” to the East Ghouta area. Last month Syrian troops briefly reached the center of Mleha, only to be repulsed and ambushed as they left the town, taking heavy losses.

Since town, the Syrian military has maintained airstrikes on the town while making occasional attempts to advance on the ground.

On Saturday, at least two missiles< and four airstrikes hit Mleha.

Insurgents claim that they not only repelled the latest attacks but took several buildings which had been occupied by regime troops:

Former UN Envoy Brahimi: “Syria Will Become Another Somalia” as Assad Refuses to Leave

Former United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who stepped down this spring after almost two years with no success in finding a political resolution, admits in a wide-ranging interview with Spiegel that the Geneva talks of January-February had little chance of success:

The Syrian regime only came to Geneva to please the Russians, thinking that they were winning militarily. I told them “I’m sure that your instructions were: ‘Go to Geneva. But not only don’t make any concessions, don’t discuss anything seriously.”

The majority among the opposition were against coming to Geneva. They preferred a military solution and they came completely unprepared. But at least they were willing to start talking with President Assad still there as long as it was clear that, somewhere along the line, he would go.

I told the Americans and the Russians several times while we were preparing for Geneva that they were bringing these two delegations kicking and screaming, against their will.

Asked why President Assad would not accept a transitional government, Brahimi replied:

It is his regime. He still has an appetite for power. The regime is built around his person and he still has enough authority over people that having him stay in power is a fundamental part of their vision of the future.

And he firmly tied the President to the deadly actions of his regime:

He knows a hell of a lot. Maybe he doesn’t know every single detail of what is happening, but I’m sure he is aware that people are being tortured, that people are being killed, that bombs are being thrown, that cities are being destroyed. He cannot ignore the fact that there are 2.5 million refugees. That number is going to be 4 million next year, and there are 6 million people who are internally displaced. He knows that there are 50,000 to 100,000 people in his jails. And that some of them are tortured every day.

The envoy concluded, “(Syria) will be become another Somalia. It will not be divided, as many have predicted. It’s going to be a failed state, with warlords all over the place.”

Videos: Fighting & Airstrikes Throughout Daraa Province

Fighting and airstrikes were reported throughout Daraa Province in southern Syria on Saturday, with insurgent ground campaigns countering the Syrian military’s airpower.

Regime warplanes continued to pound the key town of Nawa:

Meanwhile, insurgents have been attacking the Syrian army’s position at Tel al-Jumou with artillery and rocket launchers:

A direct hit on a regime vehicle:

A 130-mm cannon firing on Izraa, north of Daraa:

Video: Insurgent Dig Tunnels in Daraa Province for Underground Attacks on Military Targets

Al Jazeera English reports on the insurgent tactic of digging underground tunnels to prepare explosions destroying military targets, in this case in Daraa Province in southern Syria:

Opposition forces have carried out a series of deadly underground attacks on the Syrian military this year, notably in Aleppo.

See Syria Daily, May 9: Insurgents Strike Again in Aleppo