Syria conflict: 5 warring factions
Syria is at the nexus of some of the Middle East's most central problems, meaning that fallout from its uprising is likely to ripple, in unpredictable ways, through the region. Here's a brief guide to the actors in the conflict.
The Syrian opposition
The opposition is split between the exiles and the internal actors. The Istanbul, Turkey-based Syrian National Council is the leading platform for the opposition; but it has a troubled history of infighting and division, chiefly between Islamists and secularists. Burhan Ghalioun, the leader of the SNC, resigned May 24 in the face of mounting criticism.
The internal opposition is on the front lines of the struggle and has risked arrest, torture, and death. They view the external opposition with contempt and suspicion. The inability of the external opposition to provide a unified vision of a post-Assad Syria has seriously weakened its credibility inside the country, particularly among the minorities who so far have been reluctant to join the struggle.