Syrian opposition fighters and their international backers are preparing for what some activists and armed battalions describe as a sustained push from the south toward the regime-controlled capital, Damascus, marking a dramatic shift in strategy.

Rebel units and opposition activists describe an inflow of aid into the south, with western and Arab advisers struggling to organise some four dozen separate armed groups under a formal structure that gives ultimate authority to local commanders.

Southern rebels along the borders with Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights have already managed to make piecemeal gains in the provinces of Queneitra and Deraa as well as the southern rural outskirts of Damascus, capturing bits of new territory almost weekly. […]