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Syria has long branded the opposition as being foreign-funded “terrorist mercenaries” even when the anti-government movement was overwhelmingly peaceful and Syrian. Now, however, it appears that elements involved in militant jihads are increasingly joining the fight.

In the past month, the rebels have demonstrated greater capabilities and have mounted the biggest challenges to the regime so far in the 17-month-old uprising. They have been fielding more effective forces with better weaponry.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have both expressed a willingness to fund the rebellion and are believed to be sending money to rebels to purchase weapons. On Tuesday, the official Saudi Press Agency said a week-long national campaign to support “our brothers in Syria” had collected $117 million dollars in cash donations to outfit relief convoys for Syrian refugees.

Associated Press writer Slobodan Lekic contributed to this report from Brussels.