Vast swathes of northern Syria, especially in the province of Idlib, have slipped out of the hands of President Bashar Assad, if not quite out of his reach. The area is now a de facto liberated zone, though the daily attacks by Damascus’s air force and the shelling from the handful of checkpoints and bases regime forces have fallen back to are a reminder that the rebel hold on theterritory remains fluid and fragile.
What is remarkable is that this substantial strip of ‘free” Syria has been patched together in the last 18 months by military defectors, students, tradesmen, farmers and pharmacists who have not only withstood the Syrian army’s withering fire, but in some instances repelled them using a hodgepodge of limited, light weaponry. The feat is even more amazing when one considers the disarray among the outside powers supplying arms to the loosely allied band of rebels.
Syria’s Secular and Islamist Rebels: Who Are the Saudis and the Qataris Arming? | World | TIME.com.