Syria

Assad Optimistic in Wake of Recent Victories Against Rebels

Tide turning

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(Reuters)—The road to Bashar al-Assad's palace on the edge of Damascus has four checkpoints manned by Republican Guards and plain-clothed police which guests must pass before they reach the main gate.

Inside the People's Palace, in the hills overlooking the Syrian capital, visitors who have seen the Syrian president in the last month say security is surprisingly light for a man who has lost control of half his country to a rebel uprising.

Assad's air of confidence—a constant through more than two years of conflict—appeared almost delusional when rebel mortars and bombs were tearing at the heart of Damascus and fighting closed its airport to foreign airlines late last year.