In just a few months, the Free Syrian Army, a force of soldiers who have deserted the regular army, has transformed the once-peaceful Syrian uprising into a civil war. With the help of our Observers, we are able to follow the rebel army’s progress.
The Free Syrian army was officially formed on July 29, 2011. At first, the FSA billed itself as a means to protect protesters from violent crackdowns by the regime. These past few weeks, however, the FSA has carried out full-on military operations, in which dozens of soldiers from the regular army have died. Eight more soldiers were killed Thursday in Homs, one of them a colonel. The FSA has also kidnapped soldiers in order to carry out prisoner exchanges.
The FSA says its ranks are rapidly growing, as more and more soldiers desert the regular army.
According to our Observers in Syria, the FSA is now present in most regions of the country:
  • In Homs and in towns on its outskirts (Al-Rastan, Talbiseh, Tedmor, and Kousseir)
  • In Deraa and its region (in Nawa, Inkhil, Al-Jiza, Jassem, and Tiba)
  • Around the capital Damascus (in Douma, Harasta, Rankous, Domeir, Daria, Kanaker, Barzeh, and Qalamoun)
  • In Deir Al-Zour and Idlib and their outskirts (in Jabal al-Zawiya, Ma’arrat al-Numan, Jisr al-Shougour, Sermin, and Selqin)
  • In the region of Aleppo
Most of the time, the FSA fights in the style of urban guerrillas, not aiming to occupy terrain once a fight is over. However, our Observers confirm that the FSA has taken complete control of two small towns near Deraa, the town of Benish in Idlib province, and the towns of Saqba, Arbeen, and Zabadani near the capital. 

The residents of Arbeen, near the capital Damascus, celebrate the FSA’s victory

In Saqba, near Damascus, the FSA holds a victory parade

In Hama, the FSA addresses a crowd of protesters after a successful operation

An FSA operation in Homs

New FSA members take an oath in Jisr al-Shougour

The FSA controls the town of Zabadani

FRANCE 24 correspondents Karim Hakiki and Adel Gastel visit the FSA-controlled town of Benish, in Idlib province.