The United States must embrace the Syrian opposition fully in order to strengthen its moderate elements, convert the networks of opposition groups into a functioning hierarchy that can govern the country, and ensure that a moderate, representative state friendly to the United States emerges in the wake of Assad.
Since the fall of al-Raqqa city into rebel hands in mid-March 2013, many Syria commentators have been closely tracking events in the city as an indicator of Syria’s future under rebel control.
The opposition movement in Syria has been fragmented from its inception, a direct reflection of Syria’s social complexity and the decentralized grassroots origin of the uprising. This condition has plagued Syria’s armed opposition since peaceful protestors took up arms and began forming rebel groups under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the summer of 2011.
ISW’s latest report, The Free Syrian Army, analyzes how rebel commanders on the ground in Syria have begun to coordinate tactically in order to plan operations and combine resources.
On March 4, 2013, rebel groups overran government forces in al-Raqqa city, the first provincial capital and only urban center to fall to rebel hands since the start of the uprising.