New ISW Report Zooms In On Syrian Opposition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Tricia Miller [email protected] 202-293-5550 x 210 March 8, 2012

Washington, D.C. – As U.S. policymakers struggle to decide how to get involved in Syria, one of their main questions has been about the identity of the many opposition groups there. Joseph Holliday, a senior research analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, seeks to answer that question with his new report on the Free Syrian Army. In “ Syria’s Armed Opposition,” Holliday delves into the umbrella organization for many of the country’s internal opposition groups.

“The Free Syrian Army is certainly a fighting organization with which the United States can engage in discussions about practical support,” Holliday wrote. “Furthermore, we know the names, faces, birthplaces, operating areas, and activities of the insurgent leaders affiliated with the effective fighting units.”

The report tracks the FSA’s evolution over 2011 and 2012. The group formed over the summer of 2011 a number of Syrian Army officers defected and formed their headquarters in Turkey. Though it does not have close operational control over rebels in Syria, many of the most effective units have aligned themselves with the FSA. The report includes maps of the battles between rebels and the regime across Syria, lists of the armed opposition units and their areas of operation, and biographical details and photographs of the leaders of the Free Syrian Army.

Holliday is also the author of “ The Struggle for Syria in 2011: An Operational and Regional Analysis.” Holliday served as an Infantry and intelligence officer in the U.S. Army from June 2006 to September 2011, and he continues to serve in the Army reserves. During his time on active duty, Holliday deployed to East Baghdad, Iraq from November 2007 to January 2009 with the 10th Mountain Division, 2-30 Infantry Battalion. From May 2010 to May 2011 he deployed to Afghanistan's Kunar Province as the Intelligence Officer for 2-327 Infantry Battalion, 101st Airborne Division. He has a Bachelor's degree in History from Princeton University.

To talk to Holliday, please contact Tricia Miller at [email protected] or at (202) 293-5550 x210.


The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) is a non-partisan, non-profit, public policy research organization. ISW advances an informed understanding of military affairs through reliable research, trusted analysis, and innovative education. We are committed to improving the nation’s ability to execute military operations and respond to emerging threats in order to achieve U.S. strategic objectives.