We discuss whether the opposition’s guerrilla strategy is more effective than organised military tactics.
As President Bashar al-Assad’s army continues to bombard multiple areas at the same time, the growing armed opposition movement is becoming an increasingly important element in the Syrian crisis.
“I think what we are seeing on the ground is an increasingly chaotic, incohesive and in some ways contradictory militarisation and violence going on against the regime.”
– Nicholas Noe, co-founder of Mideastwire.com
It has succeeded in bringing the year-old conflict to the capital Damascus.
Since the start of March, the main opposition armed group, the Free Syrian Army, has suffered major setbacks. It has been forced out of some areas it had seized, such as the Baba Amro district of Homs and Idlib.
Military experts say the rebel fighters have made the mistake of trying to take and hold on to territories. Something they, as a guerilla force, should not have done.
Perhaps that is the reason why the Free Syrian Army, which is made up largely from defectors and volunteers, annouced a couple of days ago it has set up a Military Council to co-ordinate operations in and around Damascus. The group has been forced to find new ways to fight back.
So is the armed opposition in Syria – small, ill-equipped and disorganised – posing a serious threat to the Assad regime? Can the guerrilla warfare achieve what the international community could not do so far? Is guerrilla warfare more effective than organised military tactics? And what influence does the Syrian National Council have over the various armed groups operating on the ground?
Joining Inside Syria to discuss this are: Joseph Holliday, a senior research analyst at the Institute for the Study of War; Nicholas Noe, a co-founder of Mideastwire.com; and Yaser Tabbara, a member of the Syrian National Council.
“All indications at this point are that this war will protract. The Assad regime’s primary formations have remained intact and yet the rebels have been able to survive very effectively so far. The rebels might not be operating under a unified chain of command as we would consider it in traditional military terms. That said, these local groups are very organised at the local district-city level. And they’ve demonstrated the ability to be aware of the operations being conducted by other groups in other areas. And that’s allowed them to conduct complimentary operations.”
Joseph Holliday, Institute for the Study of War