Opposition and rebels in the country’s civil war
Here are key players in the Syrian civil war.
Syrian regime; despite major defections and a July 18 explosion in Damascus that killed four top generals, including President Bashar Assad’s brother-in-law, the regime’s inner circle is still powerful and united against the opposition.
Assad’s inner circle includes his younger brother, Maher, who commands the forces in charge of protecting the capital. It also includes the heads of the four intelligence agencies playing a major role in the crackdown. Although regime forces lost parts of the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest; government troops still control most cities, while the opposition dominates large parts of the countryside.
Free Syrian Army
Free Syrian Army; The main rebel fighting force for more than a year, the Free Syrian Army includes lightly-armed volunteer militiamen and defectors from Assad’s military. Its overall strength and structure is unclear, but tens of thousands are believed be loyal to the group. The rebels have control over some northern areas, allowing movement of fighters and supplies from Turkey and Lebanon.
Anti-Assad forces have failed to maintain any strategic footholds in big cities, being driven back from key neighborhoods in Homs earlier this year and now apparently losing ground in the largest urban center, Aleppo. The battles also suggest only weak direction from central commanders — including Turkey-based Free Syrian Army leader Riad al-Asaad.