On April 25, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed that the United States had evidence of chemical weapons use by the Syrian regime, albeit with “varying degrees of confidence”
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.
On April 14, 2013, regime forces broke the 6-month siege of the Wadi al-Deif and Hamidiya military compounds outside of Maarat al-Numan, putting the rebel opposition in the area on the defensive and reestablishing overland supply lines to the bases.
Jabhat Nusra officially pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri in a recent statement. Despite Jabhat Nusra's attempts to reaffirm their Syrian identity, the announcement will likely enhance existing fractures between Jabhat Nusra and other opposition groups.
The Syrian opposition in southern Syria has achieved significant gains in recent weeks. The opposition in the north and south now appear to be launching similar, coordinated campaigns to outlast the will of the regime.
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.