His country a smoldering ruin, but Assad still in his seat

Syrians are getting ready for a new round of diplomacy intended to forge a path forward for a political transition in the country after six years of war.

As the sides prepare for what will be the eighth round of U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Geneva later this month, one thing is clear and that is that President Bashar Assad has survived the war.

One reason is military. Assad's forces have had the momentum on the ground the past year, backed by an overwhelming Russian air campaign and fighters from Iran and Hezbollah. Assad's government now controls more than 50 percent of Syria.

Holding half the country normally wouldn't be an optimistic sign, but that's up from 19 percent earlier this year. His troops control Syria's four largest cities.