Anti-Government Forces

Free Syrian Army

The Free Syrian Army is an army formed in 2011 to fight the Syrian government . Its primary fighting force were particularly members of defected Syrian Arab Army members and volunteers. Estimations say that the FSA had attracted 15,000 to 25,000 soldiers from the syrian armed forces by December 2011. Despite the huge number of soldiers, the FSA leaders had no operation control over the action on the ground in syria.

In December 2012 a number of FSA brigades joined the newly-created Supreme Military Council (SMC) because the Western and Gulf Arab backers wanted the a strong, moderate and centralised rebel leadership.


Islamic Front

In late 2013, seven Islamist groups announced that they were forming the largest rebel alliance in syria with an estimated 45000 fighters. The Islamic front stated in their decleration that they aim to “overthrow the syrian regime completely and build an Islamic state”. The declaration was signed by the following founding groups: Jaysh al-Islam, Ahrar al-Scham, Ansar al-Sham, the Kurdish Islamic Front, Liwa al-Tawhid,  Suqour al-Sham and Liwa al-Haqq.

The Islamic Front doesn’t include the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the al-Qa’ida affiliate al-Nusra Front. However its charter also welcomes foreign fighters, as “brothers who are supporting us in jihad against our enemies”.


Al-Nusra Front / Jabhat al-Nusra

Jabhat al-Nusra is a a Syrian jihadist group fighting against Bashar Al-Assad’s regime with the aim of building an islamic state in Syria. It was approximately created in mid-2011. With roughly 5000 members al-Nusra is by no means the biggest group fighting in the Syrian Civil War, though it has often been pictured as one of the most effective forces.

There are a variety of similarities between the al-Nusra Front and al-Qa’ida in Iraq, which is presented as evidence of their shared history starting in the early 2000s. The short-term strategy of Jabhat al-Nusra is primarily military centered, but they has sought to create popular support by carrying out public works and providing social services too.