Many Syrians are worried about what Rahman and other moderates describe as an increasingly polarized political landscape among the Syrian opposition. Hard-line groups exist among both the Islamists and secularists, but many Syrians say that conservative Islamist groups are gaining the most ground inside Syria right now. Throughout Aleppo, a number of civilians are also calling for a post-Assad government to be based on sharia, or Islamic law.
Despite moderates' fears, many Syrians, regardless of their affiliations and beliefs, say the trend toward conservative Islam is largely a response to decades of secular rule under the Assad regime and does not necessarily indicate the desire for an ultra-conservative regime in Syria.
“Wherever the extremists go, they try to impose themselves on the population. This is a civilian revolution, and it contains all the elements of our society,” says Abu Karam, the battalion leader.
Among the groups that have caused the greatest concern is Jabhat al-Nusra, a conservative Islamist group now fighting among the Syrian opposition. Last week, the US State Department classified the group as a terrorist organization, saying it had ties to Al Qaeda in Iraq, which was a major force within the anti-US Sunni insurgency.