The Free Syrian Army

The Free Syrian Army has so far been the single organised armed movement apparently confronting incursions by regime forces. Though their existence has been disputed and while their size and extent of their involvement are questionable, defections and clashes have certainly taken place. The regime produced some footage showing armed citizens particularly in Hama, but during most incursions the ‘armed gangs’ have to have been groups of armed defected soldiers. There may have been some Iraq ‘veterans’, tribesmen, and perhaps small youth gangs that had some arms to take up here and there, but the amount of military force the regime has used during their incursions suggests much more than that. The claim of armed gangs of Salafis and Ikhwanis suddenly coming out of nowhere by the hundreds if not thousands, killing hundreds of soldiers and terrorising a dozen cities is absurd. They were after defectors, who must have been at least in the hundreds – whether organised or not – and had every reason to defect and engage the incursions which most probably didn’t survive. As long as the reasons to defect and resist remain there, the ‘problem’ is only bound to return and increase in number and organisation.

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