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He noted the measures the rebels have taken to hold the town: Residents man a few checkpoints. Each has an old Kalashnikov rifle and a walkie-talkie to warn of planes.

“The regime will fall soon if God wills it,” Mr. Abass said. “We want weapons to take down the regime but the Arab and Islamic world need to support us.”

The Free Syrian Army insists that more help is needed from outside, such as a no-fly zone over the territory that the rebels hold. Turkey supports such plans, but the U.N. has balked at the suggestion.

A few miles south of Azaz, Suran’s town center hosts a state-owned TV tower opposite the main mosque draped with a Free Syrian Army flag.

Residents operate a few checkpoints, and bread here is much more expensive than last year.

Still, unlike besieged cities such as Homs or parts of Aleppo, locals here have just enough to survive: The soil is red and rich, home to olives and varieties of fruits. Teenagers shoot pool in a community recreation room, and barbers do a brisk business.

Town council member Mohammed Saer, 41, said that organizing Suran’s services has been a struggle. “We have shortages of everything: housing, jobs, medicines,” he said.

Still, residents look ahead.

“In the future, we will have elections. Everyone will have to be voted in, from the mokhtar [village head] to the street cleaners,” Mr. Saer said. “Foreign intervention would mean that Bashar would be gone in a week. But if we do it ourselves, it will take two years.”

“Removing him is the only solution,” he added, noting that former leaders Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia and Moammar Gadhafi of Libya “one by one they left, and we see that life is better without them.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.