Fighters in the Free Syrian Army are optimistic they will shake their nation loose from Bashar al-Assad’s rule. But what will their cities, towns and villages look like when their struggle is over? Some are looking to the West for help rebuilding their country.

In a scene playing out across the nation, Syrian troops withdrew from the previously occupied town of Atareb, home to 20,000 people less than 20 miles from Aleppo, the country’s largest city. The city was retaken by FSA troops during an attack launched from another city they had seized.

The spread of the FSA’s control and ongoing waves of government defections suggest Assad’s days are indeed numbered, but not without the crippling of Syrian communities.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Guardian:

Today, “freed” Atareb is a ravaged mess. Only a few residents have returned. Shells pulverised homes; the clinic was gutted by fire. The old souk was a deadly sniper’s alley during the fighting; now, it is a tangle of broken glass and destroyed shopfronts. The revolutionary flag flies from Atareb’s 2,000-year-old citadel, an ancient structure that will take years to rebuild.

… Despite the upbeat mood in the rebel camp, there is plenty of fear. Abdullah, an educated, English-speaking civil engineer who declined to give his second name, predicted the war could drag on for months. “The FSA every day is increasing,” he observed. “It’s becoming stronger and stronger. But the price will be very big without help from the west.”

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