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Aleppo's fledgling government reflects a society shaped by war

Representation on Aleppo's Transitional Revolutionary Council will be determined partially by the number of each community's residents killed in the uprising and the level of destruction there. 

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Two men ride a motorcycle past the infantry college in the countryside in Aleppo, Syria, Friday, Dec. 21.

Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters

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Members of the Syrian opposition in Aleppo are preparing to unveil what will be the most ambitious transitional government effort to come from inside Syria since the revolution began 21 months ago.

Aleppo’s Transitional Revolutionary Council, a civilian effort to provide government services in areas of northern Syria under opposition control, has created a 224-person Grand Assembly with representatives for every area of the province, even those still under government control. The new legislative body plans to have its first meeting within a month.

The creation of the opposition’s Grand Assembly comes on the heels of weeks of major rebel gains in northern Syria and is emblematic of their growing confidence in Aleppo. But the new legislature faces challenges finding sufficient funding and securing locations to meet, underscoring the challenges that remain despite recent progress.

“What makes this project successful here in Aleppo is that most of Aleppo is liberated,” says Rafat Rifai, a freelance journalist who works as a consultant for the Transitional Revolutionary Council. Still, he adds, “the main financial resources are still with the regime so if the new assembly tries to take on the same role of the [Assad] government, it will need the same budget.”

The assembly has only limited funding. It comes from a mix of sources including Syrian expatriates and local businessmen, and the new Syrian opposition coalition formed in Doha last month is said to be considering offering assistance. The modest budget will force the group to prioritize its efforts on essentials such as repairing the electric grid and addressing bread shortages.

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