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On March 22, the Syrian insurgency witnessed the latest in a series of mergers, when the Islamist Suqour al-Sham faction effectively subsumed itself into one of the country's most powerful organizations, Ahrar al-Sham. Both groups had been among the very first armed groups to form in Syria in mid-2011 and although Suqour al-Sham has reduced in size over the past 12 months, both have consistently been among the most consequential actors in the fight against the Assad regime. Following the union, Ahrar al-Sham now finds itself in command of approximately 15,000 fighters across Syria, with active operations in 10 of Syria's 14 governorates.Now finding themselves involved in the fifth year of a brutal civil conflict that has left at least 220,000 people dead, displaced 10 million others inside and outside the country, and trapped over 640,000 under military siege, the strategic thinking within the Syrian insurgency is subtly shifting.First, the Nusra Front remains an acutely powerful force on the ground in Syria and one that the remainder of the opposition is reliant upon to maintain an effective front against regime and pro-regime forces.As of today, there is no immediately discernible end in sight for the conflict in Syria.This has included a significant program of face-to-face engagement with the leadership of over 100 armed opposition groups from across the entire Syrian spectrum.
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