March 18, 2013

The Opposition Takeover in al-Raqqa

ISW | Elizabeth O'Bagy and Joseph Holliday | Mar 15, 2013 | On March 4, 2013, rebel groups overran government forces in al-Raqqa city, the first provincial capital and only urban center to fall to rebel hands since the start of the uprising.  Spearheaded by powerful Salafist groups, including Jabhat al-Wahdet al-Tahrir al-Islamiyya and Ahrar al-Sham, the offensive illustrates the growing strength of Islamists within the rebels’ ranks.  The fall of al-Raqqa has reduced regime positions in eastern Syria to the military airbase outside Deir ez-Zour city and a handful of isolated outposts in northeastern Kurdish areas. As the regime’s reach continues to contract, al-Raqqa serves as an important test case for how the opposition will administer territory that they seize from Assad. (READ MORE)

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