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The Free Syrian Army

a loose collection of ideologically diverse localized components, was formed on 29 July 2011, by officers defecting from the Syrian Arab Army. Whether or not it actually exists in any organizational capacity is debateable. FSA-affiliated battalions are active throughout the country, but are strongest in the south (Dara'a, Quneitra, and Rif-Dimashq), where most fight under the Southern Front alliance. FSA groups in the north are less unified, while the situation overall is dominated by a wide range of Islamist factions. FSA-affiliated battalions are supported by the U.S., U.K., Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf States. 

 

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(Harakat) Ahrar al-Sham (al-Islamiyya)

is a coalition largely made up of Syrian Islamists and Salafists, created by Hassan Aboud in late 2011. It is the largest unified force among the opposition, fielding an estimated 20,000 fighters. Ahrar ash-Sham is predominantly active in the northwest, specifically Idlib, and is involved in many operations alongside both jihadists and moderate nationalists. It is the most prominent member of the Islamic Front coalition. The group receives international support from Turkey and Qatar, while having been designated a terrorist organization by Syria, Iran, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt. 

 

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Jabhat al-Nusra

also known as al-Nusra Front, is the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. It was formed on 23 January 2012, by Syrian national Abu Mohammad al-Julani, a member of the Islamic State of Iraq. Following the outbreak of the Civil War, al-Julani and other ISI members moved into Syria with the intention of creating an al-Qaeda franchise embedded within the popular resistance. JAN is most prevalent within the northwest, specifically Idlib governorate. It fights alongside a vast array of other rebel groups, though has occasionally engaged in hostilities with some. Jabhat al-Nusra is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.N. Security Council, the U.S., the U.K., Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the U.A.E., Iran, Russia, and others.

 

 

Jaysh al-Islam

was formed in a livestreamed ceremony on 29 September, 2013, as salafists Liwa al-Islam merged with about fifty smaller organizations based in Damascus. It is lead by the Alloush family, Zahran Alloush being the founder and leader until his death on 25 December 2015. Mohammed Alloush is the current political leader. According to rebel claims in May 2015, the group was somewhere between 17,000 and 25,000 strong, primarily active in the Damascus neighborhoods of Douma and Eastern Ghouta. Jaysh al-Islam is part of the Islamic Front, as well as several joint operations rooms that include both Islamists and FSA elements. It receives international support from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, while having been place on Syria, Iran, Russia, and Egypt's terrorist lists. 

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