Analysis from a russian observer:
Despite the efficient operation of Russian airforces, offensive Syrian army on rebel positions is very sluggish. It almost goes flat. Until now, there was not one captured a major city, but as a rule of the air allows for the proper organization of ground operations to achieve success on the ground.
The Syrian army has taken a few small settlements, villages actually. In the north of Latakia Syrian troops captured three settlements, and a few on the southern outskirts of Salma. Continue the offensive on Aleppo Idlib. Go fighting against militants in the neighborhoods and Dzhobar Haraszti Eastern Guta district, a suburb of Damascus.
The rate of advance of the Syrian army in recent days has slowed significantly. This is due primarily to the fact that the Syrians are moving in several directions at once operational, are not trying to surround one or another group of rebels. Is slow ousting militants in order to restore the transport connectivity of the government-controlled territory and dislodge militants from Damascus.
Since the Second World War, the only effective means of capturing large cities are assault groups (SH). They include scouts, sappers, snipers, signalers and compact infantry units. The assault group supported by tanks, but the main striking force of the SH - artillery large and super-large caliber.
During the storming of Berlin by Soviet troops played a major role divisions especially large caliber artillery from artkorpusov breakthrough - 203 mm and 305 mm howitzer. With their help destroyed centers of resistance in buildings that could not be destroyed by any tanks or 152 mm howitzer.
The Syrian army artillery so no. Her arms are 122-mm self-propelled guns, "carnation", 152-mm self-propelled guns, "Acacia", 122 mm howitzer D-30 and M-30, a large number of 130-mm guns M-46 152 mm howitzer D-20 and ML-20. The entire park of artillery - of Soviet production.
Given the fact that in the suburbs of Damascus, the building is not so strong as in Berlin of the Third Reich, the Syrians would, in my opinion, to use guns M-46, which have several hundred (700-800), as part of the assault teams. But, apparently, the army of the government of Syria is not the necessary experience and ability and desire to create such SH.
But this means that the set before the start of a ground operation against terrorists task will not be performed. Frontal attack on major cities such as Aleppo, the forces of infantry, supported by tanks, even, will only lead to great losses of troops and armored vehicles.
It is increasingly clear that the Russian air group in Syria needs to be strengthened. Since the airfield in Latakia can not take more than 50 strike aircraft will probably have to negotiate with the Iranians about the use of our planes of their airfields. Which, incidentally, will allow to put air strikes on the positions of the terrorists not only in Syria.
Until now, Iranian participation units in operations in Syria is very limited. In the fighting, together with the Syrian army is involved, apparently, only special unit "Al Quds", the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Since Iran is certainly too afraid to irritate the US, which may renew those or other sanctions against it, then the negotiations for Russian aircraft to be based on Iranian airfields and involvement of Iranian forces in ground operations are being questioned.
Russian media have reported on the participation of mercenaries from Russia to the fighting on the side of the Syrian government. Ostensibly a call for volunteers willing to fight for a good reward in Syria held a private military company known as "PMC Wagner."
The publication «Fontanka.ru» has published an interview with the managers of the alleged PMC, in which he said: "Full fighters private military company does not advertise here. She's not in reference books and registers. Among devoted she is known as "PMC Wagner." Until recently, the main force of this formation took part in the armed conflict in the breakaway Luhansk People's Republic, now there is a relocation to Syria.
"PMC Wagner" - one of the most secret units fighting in the LC and the DNI. Commanders and fighters never give interviews, photograph with Ukrainian trophies do not appear in social networks, they are not mentioned in the official release of the power of self-proclaimed republics.
The core of the future "PMC Wagner" was formed in the same place where the men went today - on the territory of the Syrian Republic. In autumn 2013 Russian managers private military company Moran Security Group, Vadim Gusev and Yevgeny Sidorov, formed a band of 267 "contractors" for the "protection of deposits and pipelines" in a belligerent country.
After a month of training camp under the protection of Latakia instead rigs "Slavic body" got involved in combat engagement with parts of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (LIH - banned organization in Russia), and after being wounded six of his fighters retreated. "
According to Russian bloggers, the number of units of the Russian citizens who are fighting on the side of Assad, not more than two thousand people, which can not seriously affect the course of the ground operation.