Friday, September 6, 2013

Syria's Rebels

They may have started as Syrian Freedom fighters - but things fractured and changed.

Syria's rebels: 20 things you need to know   BBC - September 6, 2013

1. The opposition didn't start out as a military movement.

2. But it wasn't long before things grew more violent.

3. Some rebel groups are closely allied with al Qaeda.

4. That's one reason why many in the West have expressed qualms about helping them.

5. But not all the rebels are jihadists. Look at the Free Syrian Army, for example.

6. There are also a lot of local militias.

7. There have been efforts to unite the rebels, but still there's no central figure leading them. And if the regime falls, it's anybody's guess what could happen next.

8. Religion motivates many of them.

9. They're not all Syrian.

10. They're not just fighting al-Assad's regime -- they're fighting Hezbollah militants.

11. It's not all about fighting on the battlefield.

12. The rebels have gained significant ground in some parts of the country, but militarily, they're outmatched.

13. The rebels get weapons from a variety of sources, including foreign governments.

14. There are between 70,000 and 100,000 rebel fighters.

15. How many of them are extremists? It depends on who you ask.

16. They've been accused of using chemical weapons, too.

17. Human rights groups warn that Syrian rebels have also committed abuses.

18. Some disturbing videos purporting to show the rebels' brutality have surfaced online.

19. At first, the United States said it would only give the rebels "non-lethal support," like communications equipment, food and medical supplies.

20. In June, the United States pledged to give the rebels weapons.