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 Free Syrian Army

Courtesy of Reuters
PROTEST: A member of the Free Syrian Army (foreground) attended a demonstration against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers May 25 in Idlib, Syria.

The Free Syrian Army is the main armed opposition and consists of several "brigades," "battalions," and "companies." The strength of each unit runs from as few as 15 fighters to the Khaled bin Walid Brigade in the area of Homs, which boasts 3,000 combatants in five battalions. The leadership of the FSA is in Turkey, and most units act with a high degree of autonomy. There is some coordination between adjacent units, but the FSA essentially operates as a cellular guerrilla network rather than a regular army.

The FSA lacks regular supplies of ammunition and appropriate weapons, notably antiarmor missiles.

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