The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is the armed part of Syrian opposition that fights in the Syrian Civil War. It fights the Syrian Army, the Kurds and the Islamic State. Its colonel was Riad al-Asaad before he defected to the Syrian Salvation Government in 2017. The current commander in chief is Salim Idris. The FSA was founded on July 29, 2011 by seven officers. The bulk of the FSA is made up of Sunnis, including Islamists, but the official government body is at least nominally pro-religious freedom. Many Islamists even left the FSA and joined Al-Qaeda affiliate Jahbat al-Nusra, and the Islamic State, when the groups came into open conflict..
Despite the name, many fighters in the FSA are not Syrian. An American convert to Islam and former U.S. armed forces member Eric Harroun fought with the FSA.He started appearing in YouTube videos in late 2012 with other fighters.He came back to the U.S. in 2013 and later died of a drug overdose in 2014.
It was often criticized for its Islamist fighters, who persecute Christians in Syria. But it attacked also the Shiite village Hatla and killed 60 fighters and civilians. The United Nations reported that child soldiers are fighting with the Free Syrian Army, though not as many as were fighting in the Psudo-Communist YPG, an enemy of the FSA. The Free Syrian Army was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, worked with Al-Qaeda and was trained by Hamas.. After the ISIS invasion of Syria, the FSA split into multiple factions. AN Islamism faction, which would eventually break away to form the Syrian Salvation Government, (SAA) and a moderate, Pro-USA, Pro-democracy faction, which was funded by the United States Government and NATO. When Donald Trump made the decision to cease an Obama Era program to fund Islamists and Kurdish Communists, he continued to aid the FSA, recognizing the change in the movement that had occurred since the split with the Islamists. Since most of the front line against Assad is dominated by Kurds and Islamists, the Free Army mainly aids NATO in combating the communist YPG and Islamist HTS on the Turkish border, as well as aiding the US coalition pacify ISIS at Al Tanf, where a Rebel base helps US troops enter from Jorden to fight ISIS. The FSA units stationed at al-tanf also engage in semi regular fighting with Hezbollah and the Baathists