The Russians know some of the key alawite flag rank officers in the military quite well.
Assad the alawite will not go until the balance of power is decisively against him.
The one who suffered the most was an alawite, a man belonging to the same Shia minority as the Assads, and considered a turncoat.
Many Sunnis hated the long dominant alawite minority and its Christian supporters before the conflict began in March 2011.
The plausibility of an alawite enclave, meanwhile, has been a subject for debate.
Assad hails from the alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam that al Qaeda, a Sunni group, considers a natural enemy.
The prisoners, both alawite, are waiting until the FSA finishes their investigation before being released.
Another, Mazzeh 86, is an “alawite slum and the point of origin for many pro-regime militias.”
Some Syrians interpreted this as a coded message suggesting that, as an alawite, Assad is not a true Muslim.
Belonging to the alawite minority—merely 12 percent of the population—he built a power base of mainly his own clan.