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Who are the opposition forces in Syria?

This article is over 9 years, 11 months old
The opposition in Syria is made up of three broad formations.
Issue 2289

The opposition in Syria is made up of three broad formations.

The Local Coordination Committees (LCC) represent the leadership on the ground.

Since the early days of the uprising, LCC influence has grown to encompass some 14 cities and regions, as well as a number of small towns and villages.

These grassroots committees organise the daily demonstrations.

The LCC considers itself an umbrella organisation that is trying to coordinate opposition across Syria.

It has struggled to maintain its independence.

Alongside these committees, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has emerged.

The FSA is composed of small groups of armed civilians and soldiers that have defected to the opposition. They have pledged to defend neighbourhoods from the much feared security forces the Shabiha (Ghosts).

They are lightly armed and no match for the regime’s heavy weapons. Yet they provide enough troops to disrupt the security sweeps, kidnappings and mass arrests by the Shabiha.

The FSA works in coordination with the LCC and its popularity has grown following some successful attacks on security forces.


Over the summer another opposition group emerged, modelling itself on Libya’s National Transitional Council.

The Syrian National Council (SNC) is composed of exiles, pro-Western groups, and regime insiders who have defected over the years.

The FSA has kept its distance from the SNC. It refused to attend a recent conference in Libya called by the exile group.

The SNC sees its main task as garnering Western and Arab leaders’ support for the uprising. It has been trying to place itself at the head of the revolution.

But many Syrians deeply distrust it. They have resisted calls to accept the SNC as the “government in exile”.

Many supporters of the Syrian regime brush over the differences between the Western-backed SNC and the LCC leadership on the ground.

The SNC in turn does not believe in the success of the popular uprising, moving at every turn to draw imperialism and the pro‑Western Arab states into the country.

But the SNC strategy of courting the “international community” is widely seen as a failure after the Chinese and Russian veto on foreign intervention.

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