Jieun Baek, Researcher @ Harvard | Parlio community manager
Thank you Mohamed for taking our questions! There has been so much written about Syrian opposition groups, but it's hard to understand who is who, who are the most legitimately representative groups serving the majority of Syrian citizens' interests, who 'deserve' Western support, and who the interested by-standers (e.g. Parlio community members) should be reading about and watching for.

Can you help me understand the lay of the land of relevant opposition groups inside Syria?
Political actors with interest in Syria have been trying to reach a concise answer for your question since March 2011, with limited success. Attempts by Syrians and non-Syrians to establish entities, forge alliances and create platforms to represent "the Syrian opposition", have been quite interesting to follow. Many political opposition groups and even more numerous armed opposition groups exist and proliferate. Constantly mapping them is one of our team's challenging tasks. The recent SCR 2254 has probably made it less difficult when it referred to three platforms of opposition: Riyadh, Cairo and Moscow. The one in Riyadh is actually the biggest with strong links to armed opposition groups. It included Syrian Opposition Coalition (a coalition of entities with various ideological backgrounds, based out of Syria), National Coordination Committee (Mostly leftist nationalist, functioning from Damascus, with lesser influence), as well as a number of activists, intellectuals and politicians, in addition to representatives of the major armed groups. It mainly lacks the representation of Kurd's PYD and the newly established Syrian Democratic Forces.
It gets more difficult when it comes to armed groups. Fluidity and mobility of fighters, alliance shifts, emergence of large umbrella groups and influence of different external sponsors make the picture quite perplexing. However, the activity of Jaysh Al-Fath in Idlib and Aleppo, Southern Front in Der’a and Quneitra, and Jaysh Al-Islam in Eastern Ghouta, could give a good understanding of the situation on the ground.
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