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Armed Opposition in Syria - Updated, Illustrated

The latest twist in this story, which is a lot easier to understand (yet way more gory) than a Dostoevsky novel, is explained by my hero Michael D. Weiss here. I recommend some basic training before going there, though. Read my piece, and you'll be cool to join any of the opposition groups you choose. It seems you'll have to choose, though... you'll see. Let's move on. 

My map below depicts only the armed opposition, mind. A guide to the more complicated political mess is available here. I couldn't fathom any of it, every party is called coalition this or that, and so forth. Compared to that, the scene below is delightful in its simplicity.

Peace is a coffee stain,
and poetry, a dishwater blonde.

As a summary, there are three groups, two of which are al-Qaeda. Let's start with the one that isn't: FSA. 

Free Syrian Army  "the moderates" in the bleeding heart lingo  is lead by a 30-man Supreme Military Command (SMC), headed, in turn, by General Salim Idris. FSA has declared war against the latest arrival in the opposition army business, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or the Levant)*. ISIS had murdered FSA soldiers before, and the last straw came, when they shot one of the FSA's chosen 30, Kamal Hamami, also known by his nom de guerre Abu Basir al-Ladkani... or al-Jeblawi... or Abu Bassir. The Abu part, meaning "son of" seems right, anyway. The killing took place on Thursday, 11 July in Latakia.

ISIS has been very busy lately, trying to take over the other al-Qaeda affiliated group, Jabhat al-Nusra, or The Nusra Front. This is the original jihadist group in Syria. The CEO of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, told ISIS you can't do that. Jabhat al-Nusra was there first. You stay in Iraq, do a little fighting in Syria, but behave. The head of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, told al-Zawahiri to go fuck himself. Using numerous Arabic words in saying it, but, basically, that was the message. I wonder if that would have happened, when Osama bin Laden was still in charge**.

ISIS is hated among the civilians for the atrocities it has 
committed against them — the most famous being the murder of the 14-year-old coffee-seller in Aleppo (a fragment of the story here, told by author and war junkie Anthony Loyd).

Jabhat al-Nusra has been losing members, as its fighters join the ISIS. Still, the ruling of the presiding Champion in Terrorism, al-Zawahiri, was in their favor, although ISIS couldn't care less. The two jihadist groups have already locked horns over some flour. Yes, the stuff that bread is made of.

We'll see if they start fighting for real with each other. Jabhat 

al Nusra, lead by Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani (or al-Golani) is 

often referred to as the most effective opposition army in battle.

But they want to have their their Caliphate and eat the infidels

(no pun intended)
and the rogue jihadists, too.

Shit. Hubert Selby Jr has NO place in this story! Does he?

It appears that Bashar al-Assad is able to have phone sex with Vladimir Putin yet a while longer.

*) The Levant mens roughly the same as the greater Syria. The abbreviation gets all fucked up, if you use that word: it should be ISIL instead of ISIS. So, clarity before poetry... And they are at war with FSA. Don't take my word on According to Associated Press, anyway:   

**) Then again, bin Laden also had problems with his followers in Iraq:

In November 2005, as bin Laden was settling into his new life at the Abbottabad compound, Rahman wrote a seven-page letter to the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the astonishingly cruel Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who had made a habit of personally beheading his hostages and videotaping the results for global distribution on the Internet. Rahman's letter, which clearly reflected the views of bin Laden, was a polite but blistering critique of Zarqawi, who had recently directed suicide bombings at American hotels in Amman, Jordan, that had killed sixty people, almost all of them Jordanian civilians attending a wedding. The bombings had severely tarnished al-Qaeda's image in the Arab world and came on top of Zarqawi's indiscriminate slaughter of any Muslim who didn't precisely share his views. Like a dissatisfied boss delivering a performance review, Rahman told Zarqawi that he should henceforth follow instructions from bin Laden and cease counterproductive operations such as the hotel bombings in Jordan.
When Zarqawi was killed in an American air strike six months later, bin Laden's subsequent public statements of admiration for him were only because Zarqawi had taken the fight to the Americans in Iraq in a manner that bin Laden himself could only dream of. Privately, bin Laden was worried that Zarqawi had grievously harmed the al-Qaeda brand, and in October 2007, al-Qaeda's leader even issued an unprecedented public apology for his followers in Iraq, scolding them for "fanaticism." 

Peter L. Bergen, Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad. Broadway Paperbacks, New York 2012, p. 139. Emphasis added.

And now those fellas are in Syria. 

The situation on the ground doesn't look too promising.

The West could do something, however, to the situation in the Skies. 

More on the subject (and a third way to spell al-Nusra's leader's name) here. 

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