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FACTBOX: Syrian Opposition Profile

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Syrian groups opposing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad can be divided into three main categories: the outside, the inside, and the armed.

Syrian groups opposing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad can be divided into three main categories: the outside, the inside, and the armed.

1. Outside opposition

The central body here is the Syrian National Council (SNC), whose formation was announced at a conference in Istanbul on October 2, 2011. SNC head Burhan Ghalioun has claimed the group accounts for some 60 percent of all opposition forces.

Another group, the Democratic Movement for Change, was also recently formed in Istanbul. It is headed by Syrian rights activist Ammar al-Kurbi.

Outside opposition groups have rejected dialogue with the Assad regime. Instead, they have been calling for Assad’s ouster and the creation of an interim government headed by Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Shara.

2. Inside opposition

Сhief among the inside opposition groups is the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, an umbrella organization which was formed in June last year and is headed by prominent opposition figure Hassan Abdul-Azim.

Its demands are similar to SNC’s but the groups have not signed a cooperation deal yet.

Also of note are the Building Syrian State (BSS) movement led by prominent writer Louai Hussein and the Popular Front for Change and Liberation chaired by Qadri Jamil, which have been calling for dialogue with the authorities and opposed any outside interference in Syria’s affairs.

3. Armed opposition

The opposition’s momentum was revamped when the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a group of army defectors that has vowed to overthrow President Assad by force, was formed in July last year. Its leader Col. Riad al-Asaad says the Turkey-based group numbers up to 30,000 people. In December 2011, SNC and FSA agreed to establish a “direct channel of communication” to ensure “effective coordination” between one another.

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