[Protests in front of ISIS HQ in Aleppo city, 14 November 2013]
When ISIS [DAESH] appeared in Syria in April 2013, it sought to distract the revolution from the obvious implications of its name: a claim to statehood. This was not a mere aspiration, ISI had already considered itself a state for years in Iraq and simply expanded into Syria by annexing its Syrian franchise, Jabhat al-Nusra. Although ISI had no square mile of Iraqi territory in Iraq left as a result of the Awakening, this was bound to become very different for ISIS in Syria and subsequently about to change upon its return in Iraq as well.
By the time Baghdadi, today’s self-proclaimed “Caliph”, had one-sidedly declared the merger with Nusra, the latter had already created quite a significant position for itself in the north and east of Syria since its mysterious appearance in December 2011. Despite being rejected by Nusra’s leader Jolani, who then declared his allegiance to Al Qaeda’s leader Zawahiri, the overwhelming majority of Nusra’s foreign fighters and members of smaller foreigner-based groups declared their allegiance to Baghdadi. Consequentially, they handed over their bases, checkpoints and areas of control to ISIS’ leadership and the many newcomers from Iraq that accompanied it. This instantly gave ISIS a strong presence in Syria, and Baghdadi’s envisioned statehood was about to become a reality.
[ISIS building in Menbij, Aleppo province.]
One of the first things ISIS would do was to make its presence extravagantly visible. Buildings were painted black, flags hanged everywhere, while walls and stands would bear slogans and symbols ISIS associated with. It was a bizarre appearance for a supposedly “Jihadist” group, which would only increase as the “state” expanded its power. One would expect it to be more concerned with the front lines, if unaware that statehood was the real objective. The state was already there in Baghdadi’s mind, everyone else merely needed to be convinced of it and so much priority was given to establishing the symbols of the state throughout society.
The next step was to reach out to the population, mingle with them and seek to indoctrinate them. ISIS instantly inherited support from parts of the population that had been supportive of Nusra before. Nusra had been relying on its smartly engineered reputation as a formidable fighting force combined with proving certain services and not in the least a superficial understanding of religious piety among those who would come to support it. As ISIS wasn’t interested in battles, it had to rely on engaging the population to new extents. Many leaflets and booklets were distributed, newspapers were established, ISIS preachers would speak in Mosques, religious lessons would be organised and gatherings held.
[Tunisian ISIS member "Abu Waqqas", the host of Aleppo's "family fun time" events.]
In Aleppo city, this outreach was reaching ridiculous levels with the “family fun time” events revolving around children’s entertainment. At these events candy and toys were given out, ice-cream eating contests, tug of war and musical chairs games were held, not to mention stand up comedy. That ISIS was not merely seeking to persuade parents or even raise a new generation of sympathisers would unfold in due time, for a child army was in the making that we sadly see the results of today.
[ISIS' growing child army in al-Bab, Aleppo province.]
How could a terrorist group, whose suicide bombs and assassinations had been terrorizing Iraqi society for years, have suddenly turned into some sort of theatre group touring Aleppo? In Iraq the massacres never stopped, and its destruction of the revolution inside the liberated parts of Syria had commenced as early as June 2013. In most places, ISIS didn’t get beyond painting buildings before the horror show began. This would happen in Aleppo as well, right alongside those “family fun time” events. Nevertheless, some of the people, among them those with great responsibilities, would be deceived for a long time to come.
As ISIS would also seek to provide a sense of stability and uniformity, aid and services along with a lack of crime in areas of their presence would contribute to an often positive atmosphere experienced by the population despite the aversion Aleppine society had towards religious extremism. The deception would go so far even that demonstrations would be organized in which the organizers would hold up Free Syrian flags alongside of ISIS flags, and cheer for the Free Syrian Army alongside of ISIS. This would be the same FSA whose leadership and brigades were excommunicated, threatened with annihilation and chased out of one town after another outside of the city, and the same flag that would be burned in the name of destroying idols.
ISIS was set on presenting itself in the best possible and non-threatening way to the outside world for as long as necessary. On the inside, however, it was building an army to defend its state. After its establishment, ISIS remained the fastest growing group by far, not in the least because the increasing number of foreign “fighters” coming in would overwhelmingly join Baghdadi’s state rather than Al Qaeda’s Nusra. At the same time, a stagnation in defections from Assad’s army – partly caused by the way both Nusra and ISIS treated anyone that was considered a subject of the regime – along with other factors had severely limited the growth of the revolution and even caused significant losses.
[ISIS presence in Syria, from Al-Qaeda Shows Its True Colors in Syria, 1 August 2013]
By June 2013, ISIS was already a force to be reckoned with. In its pursuit for actual statehood, ISIS sought to identify the weakest spots among what it perceived to be the greatest ideological opponents inside liberated areas. Soft targets were activists posed the greatest threat to its ideology, and foreign journalists and aid workers who were seen as spies. These were generally all unarmed civilians and either defenceless or protected by local brigades they worked with. A number of such small, localized brigades who were part of the FSA found themselves targeted as well, alongside the Supreme Military Council – the FSA’s official leadership – as a whole.
ISIS quickly understood that this was a revolution of a thousand revolutions. It wasn’t merely fractured, it was heavily disunited except on one thing: overthrowing Assad. How, when and why it got to that single point of agreement differed from place to place, the result of which was a thousand groups of different sorts which were often irrelevant beyond the villages, towns, cities or provinces they operated in. They were everything ISIS was not, and soon enough it would become clear that some of these brigades, already heavily preoccupied with the front lines, checkpoints, patrols, business or just hanging around, would be no match for ISIS on a mission. Furthermore, they had nobody to back them up other than the dysfunctional SMC or stronger local allies who weren’t eager to open a second front at all.
Nusra had already been getting away with a lot for more than a year since the appearance of ISIS; even though more than a few would oppose the group, the last thing everyone wanted was a new conflict. The National Coalition would rather criticize the U.S. for putting Nusra on the list of terrorist organisations. Moreover, it would turn out that the reason for this listing, besides its terrorist activities in Syria, was it being part of ISI, then considered to be the Iraqi franchise of Al-Qaeda. April 2013 not only proved them right, Syrians suddenly found themselves having two deal with two Al Qaeda’s. The attitude of denial and helplessness, among certain elements of the revolution going as far as to result in collaboration, would sufficiently prevail for a long time after the establishment of ISIS. This unwillingly become a major factor in facilitating the unimaginable rise of a “state” that would come to occupy more than a third of the liberated territories and would give Assad the opportunity for victories inconceivable before.
[Martyred FSA leader Abu Basir, Kamal Hammami]
ISIS successfully played into this and quickly felt confident enough to implement a new policy: in areas that ISIS saw a chance to remain virtually unopposed, activists were being kidnapped, FSA leaders [particularly those of the SMC] were being assassinated and local brigades were coming under attack. One of the first high profile victims was Abu Basir [Kamal Hammami], leader of the FSA’s Izz bin Abdul Salam Brigades in the Latakia countryside. Abu Basir was murdered as early as July 2013 at an ISIS checkpoint by a local leader of ISIS, “Abu Ayman al-`Iraqi”, after the latter accused him of apostasy. This was accompanied by the threat to kill everyone in the SMC: ISIS had effectively declared war on the FSA.
Not long before, a local FSA commander, Fadi al-Qish, was murdered in Dana in the Idlib countryside. More than a dozen of such murders, often of SMC members, would take place in the following months. Lt. Col. Ahmad Saoud and Brig. Ahmad Berri would be kidnapped in Idlib, the latter who would be decapitated by the end of December. Lt. Mohammad Qadi and Maj. Ahmad Jahhar had been murdered long before that, as had negotiator Shaykh Jalal Bayerli in Latakia and several others, leading up to the explosion of aggression in December 2013.
By then, the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey had come under attack, liberated Haram in Idlib province was captured, Hanano Brigade leader Mohammad Istanboli was kidnapped, FSA commander Ali Obeid of Atareb was kidnapped and killed, ٍShada TV in Aleppo was raided due to its hosting of Shaykh Adnan al-Arour show, Sarmada in Idlib province was stormed and the SMC HQ raided. These were from the onset not isolated incidents, such was the policy of ISIS based on ideological grounds and opportunity. Eventually these hostilities came to involve the entire revolution and before the end of the year, ISIS would effectively declare total war upon Syrian society.
[The entrance to ISIS' "Emirate of Jarablus"]
After no more than two months of ISIS’ appearance in Syria, the first town of Aleppo’s countryside to fully experience the consequences of this opportunist policy would be Jarablus. Here it was the local Martyr Yusuf al-Jader [Abu Furat] Brigade that dominated and which ISIS considered too weak to stand its ground. An attack ensued in which Abu Furat’s son and other members of his family were captured. Having defeated the only competition around, Jarablus became an official an Emirate by July 2013 and one of the first actual manifestations of statehood became a fact.
[ISIS HQ in the "Emirate of Jarablus"]
This started to happen in many parts of Aleppo’s countryside and others areas that had been liberated by the revolutionaries. Soon enough, Menbij, al-Bab, Azaz and other places in the east and north of Aleppo province would fall under the complete control of ISIS. It also occurred in Idlib province and even more so in Raqqa and Deir al-Zor provinces. The great price was Raqqa city, which had fallen as early as October 2013 and became the capital of their “state”. Some of these places were the epitome of successful civil post-Assad governance. They had been liberated for a long time and had functioning administrations which gave the people a hopeful future despite the bombardments and terrorism unleashed upon them by the Assad regime. Suddenly, all of this would vanish in a matter of weeks and replaced by the ISIS horror show.
[ISIS HQ in occupied Raqqa city]
Local brigades were all but obliterated: Farouq, Shuhada Badr, Asifat al-Shamal, Nasr, Ahfad al-Rasul, the Turkmen Brigades, Omana al-Raqqa, the 13th Division and others. Thousands of FSA fighters, would find themselves either destroyed as units or chased out of areas they had liberated from Assad. On their own, they were no match for massive invasions of madmen who were armed to the teeth. As a result, ISIS managed to take full control and began terrorizing the population with their barbarism and destroying religious heritage. Over a dozen shrines of saints would be destroyed under their rule in Syria in 2013, far beyond anything we’ve seen in the two years of revolution before their appearance. Society was transformed into a dark place where fear reigned and opposition of any sort was hunted down and wiped out. This proved to be the quickest way for Baghdadi to build his “state”.
["The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham, Wilaya of Aleppo, Emirate of Jarablus"]
However, a different story emerged wherever ISIS found itself to be an inferior force. The liberated half of Aleppo city was one of such places. Here, it wasn’t possible to go around killing people randomly and picking fights with local forces standing in the way. In the summer of 2012, the city was liberated primarily by Liwa al-Tawhid, with the support of newly formed local brigades. Together with the city’s FSA SMC-aligned military council this wasn’t something ISIS would be up against.
So instead, ISIS would expand upon its initial PR campaign and take a very different approach towards the competition. In Aleppo, ISIS would actually reach out to local forces, aid them in certain battles against the regime and cooperate with their courts, the very same courts they would vehemently reject in areas of conflict in much of countryside. ISIS continued to have its own court, but would not seek to interfere with others.
[ISIS court in Ma`dan, Raqqa province.]
Nusra, despite having lost a large part of its power to ISIS and perceiving it as an usurper, and despite being perceived as an ungrateful and stubborn child by ISIS in return, naturally remained its closest and longest standing ally. Ahrar, being the closest group to Nusra and “FSA-free” came in second. But in Aleppo, Liwa al-Tawhid and even the military council maintained relations with ISIS. Col. Agedi, the head of Aleppo’s military council, a [by then distanced] member of the SMC, a moderate person and someone who promised in front of the world to keep any aid and weapons out of the hands of extremists, had shockingly enough been deceived by ISIS to great extents.
After ISIS dealt the final blow by suicide bombing the Minnigh military airport leading to its fall in August 2013, after it had been besieged for months, Agedi praised ISIS for its efforts and victoriously posed with its local leader. Agedi also didn’t fail to remind later on that he had no problems whatsoever with the group, even though he warned that everyone else had. In addition, he had been a supporter of the unholy offensive lead by ISIS against the Kurds, although it was initiated before that by Nusra and supported by Ahrar and eventually Liwa al-Tawhid and several FSA brigades.
[Agedi together with the local leader of ISIS after capturing the Minnigh military airport]
Perhaps all of this shouldn’t have been so shocking. Agedi was not an extremist in disguise who conspired with ISIS; instead, he consistently maintained relations with absolutely everyone who opposed the regime. His was a purely military objective, and whatever it politically took to get there was apparently considered acceptable. This has proven to be a disastrous policy. Before ISIS, Agedi had been very apologetic of the more popular Nusra as well.
The terrorist attack that was condemned by the U.N. and got them on the list of terrorist organisations concerned only military targets according to him. Reliable witnesses, footage and common sense tells us otherwise. The Kurdish people also came under attack by Nusra early on, and it led the FSA’s Kurdish Meshaal Timo Brigade to confront it. As the conflict grew and ISIS began taking the lead, the FSA’s Kurdish Front officially left the FSA and allied with the YPG to defend their people.
Agedi was one of those who considered the YPG identical to the PKK and more importantly, guilty of collaboration with Assad. This perceived collaboration would prove to be the excuse for opening a second front, something everyone had sought to prevent in regards to Nusra even though there were more than mere suspicions in play. Collaboration with Assad would also become a major factor in the war with ISIS that was about to come despite Agedi’s efforts to avoid it. The Kurds, men and women, would prove to be among the most formidable fighters against ISIS. Today, Col. Agedi works together with the YPG against ISIS.
[ISIS court in Menbij, Aleppo province.]
Other such unholy distractions from the purpose of the revolution were the incursions into Alawite and Christian minority areas, the former of which would at times involve ISIS whose sole mission was to subdue and massacre. Unfortunately, some of these offensives [not any massacres or other efforts by extremists] were at their core supported by the National Coalition as well as Gen. Salim Idris who, unlike Agedi, had been vehement opponents of ISIS. In Aleppo, rumours had it that Liwa al-Tawhid’s leader, the martyred Abdul Qader Saleh [also an SMC member], was more sceptical and in conflict with Agedi over this matter. However, as the second man in the military council and Tawhid’s history with Ahrar and Nusra, the greatest potential obstacles for ISIS in Aleppo weren’t there for months on end.
But even in Aleppo, ISIS’ essential policy towards the revolution had not changed. However, there was less opportunity which made extent of this policy depend on how much the dominant forces would allow through their courts and military presence. Despite the lack of serious hostilities, this would naturally be much more limited than in areas where ISIS was in charge. ISIS would still seek out armed confrontations, but only with those groups which courts and brigades had no interest in protecting, and which were unpopular with the people. This way, ISIS managed to take on brigades like Ghuraba al-Sham inside the city and execute their leadership, headed by Hasan al-Jazra, in Atareb in the countryside as late as December 2013. In addition, ISIS had sought to take advantage of chaotic situations in which other forces were failing to maintain control. One main example of this was the “Garage” border crossing in the Busran al-Qasr neighbourhood during the siege of the regime-held part of the city.
[The martyred activist Abu Maryam al-Halabi, Ibrahim Wael]
ISIS was also still able to kidnap activists and other defenceless civilians such as Abu Maryam [Wael Ibrahim] who was “arrested” as early as August 2013. He was one of Aleppo’s most famous activists as he organised demonstrations throughout the city from his home in the Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood. He was also the older brother of Aboudeh, Aleppo’s famed young voice of freedom who lead countless of demonstrations. Col. Agedi had been visiting their demonstrations, but apparently stood powerless when ISIS took him away. Abu Maryam had in fact been “arrested” and beaten by Nusra [on their own accord] before without repercussions, so there was a history; they obviously wouldn’t shed a tear if ISIS kidnapped him, and nothing much happened on the part of other groups either when they did. By April 2014, the family was told by ISIS that Abu Maryam had been executed [presumably in Raqqa].
Liwa al-Tawhid had been fearful, little had been heard from its leader and the episode in Azaz in the countryside early on in September 2013 must have been a major blow. Having been an SMC aligned brigade which had good relations with brigades that were being attacked by ISIS, they tried to reconcile between ISIS and Asifat al-Shamal. The former was seeking to take over the latter’s home town of Azaz in Aleppo’s countryside. After constantly breaking agreements, Tawhid eventually found itself under attack as well and the town was lost to ISIS. The excuse for the offensive was a meeting between Asifat, together with Gen Salim Idris – the FSA’s Chief of Staff and head of the SMC – and U.S. senator John McCain. This was sufficient reason for ISIS to conclude that they were apostates who sought to create another Awakening in collaboration with the Americans, as had happened before in Iraq.
Soon enough however, those closest to ISIS – namely Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra – would experience a similar treatment, in that order. ISIS would begin to attack brigades that were allied with Ahrar al-Sham, thereby forcing them to become involved in negotiations. As a rule, ISIS would constantly break agreements to end conflicts, lie about what had been taking place, and refuse to settle the disputes in court. Never admitting to anything, ISIS would increasingly attack anyone who stood in the way of establishing the “state” and move on to the next town.
[The martyred Abu Rayyan, dr. Husayn Sulayman]
For Ahrar al-Sham, the last straw was the imprisonment, torture, murder and mutilation to unbelievably gruesome extents of their negotiator and medic Abu Rayyan [Husayn Sulayman] in Maskana, Aleppo province, in December 2013, after ISIS had captured the liberated town from local revolutionary forces. By then, Ahrar al-Sham had already joined Liwa al-Tawhid and several others major groups in forming the “Islamic Front”. This was something planned for a long time and pursued by Abdul Qader Saleh, Liwa al-Tawhi’d leader in particular. He would be martyred right before the declaration of its establishment as he and his team were betrayed and hit by one of Assad’s air strikes at a secret location in the city in November.
ISIS considered the Islamic Front to be a Saudi apostate project and a conspiracy against them. To ISIS, the main culprit [after Abdul Qader Saleh] was Zahran Alloush of Jaysh al-Islam, indeed closely aligned to Saudi Arabia who would become the most outspoken and aggressive enemy of ISIS within the Islamic Front. However, his presence was limited to the south while it was the aforementioned groups along with Suqour al-Sham, also part of the Islamic Front, who dominated the north. Especially Ahrar al-Sham needed convincing, and ISIS left no stone unturned to achieve exactly that; it finally succeeded with the murder of Abu Rayyan. After all the rhetoric and lies were dispelled, ISIS finally admitted that he was killed for apostasy and made no secret any longer of its position towards the Islamic Front.
Already back in November, Mohammad Fares, one of Ahrar’s fighters, had been beheaded by ISIS. He was being treated in a hospital after having been wounded in battle. As he saw two suspicious looking men roaming around, thinking they were Assad’s Shabbiha, he began crying out “Oh Husayn” hoping they would think he’s one of theirs and leave him alone. Close enough, they were Dawaesh [members of ISIS] instead. Thinking he was a Shiite, they took him with them, beheaded him, and posed with his head in front of a crowd and cameras.
Before that, there was the murder of Abu Ubayda al-Binshi who was with a Malaysian aid envoy that came under attack and was killed after trying to escape. The Dawaesh in question mistook the Malaysian flag for an American one, so the story goes. Despite of these gruesome crimes, Ahrar al-Sham would seek to avoid any conflict with ISIS which began to change when the latter declared them, as a part of the Islamic Front, an enemy that was worse and more deserving of total war than Assad.
[A brave woman protesting in front of ISIS hedquaters in occupied Menbij, Aleppo province]
ISIS had risen to power in Aleppo as well as many other parts northern and eastern Syria through lies and deception. With a revolution largely in denial of the great threat that was about to come ever since the days of Nusra, an extremely fractured revolution brutally fought on all sides by Assad and his extensive list of allies and foreign mercenaries that supported him in all possible ways, and a revolution without any serious support from the so-called “Friends of Syria”, ISIS managed to rob more than a third of the revolution’s liberated territories and do more damage to the FSA and the activists at the heart of the revolution than Assad ever could.
From the very beginning, it was the people who spoke out and rose up against ISIS: the same people who had demonstrated against Nusra before, and the very same who had started the revolution in the most peaceful of ways, with their arms in the air, chanting for freedom and dignity. It was the women and children of Raqqa who stood in front of ISIS HQ and demanded the release of their fathers, brothers and husbands. It was the people of Aleppo who took it to the streets and exposed the “family fun time” charades. Activists and ordinary civilians took it to the streets throughout the country and ISIS’ responded in the same manner as Assad had before: protesters were attacked, shot at, and eventually massacred on the streets. In return, the fate of ISIS would become the same as that of Assad.
[Kafr Nabl, the small revolutionary town in Idlib's countryside that became famous for its cartoons and was attack by ISIS by the end of December 2013.]
The scholars had also increasingly been speaking out, listing the crimes of ISIS, warning them and declaring their deviancy. However, the approach towards them remained moderate for a long time, as had been the case regarding Assad before. As for the only ones who could have made a real difference on the ground, namely the armed revolutionaries, they were either under attack themselves or tried not to also become victims of the crimes committed against their people for months. This was a grave mistake. The very cause of the revolution against Assad manifested itself once more in a different form, to ignore it is to allow the revolution to eventually be destroyed.
At first, the perceived solution would be negotiations, debates and courts. Worse, some continued to maintain relations with ISIS despite all that took place. This had to stop at some point, and it became clear that, at least as far as Assad was concerned, ISIS was fighting his fight. Assad couldn’t reach the leaders of the revolution, civilian or military, but ISIS could. Assad couldn’t transform the revolution into a barbaric manifestation in the name of religion so that he would come out looking at the lesser evil in the eyes of the world, but ISIS could.
Conspiracy theories had been running wild, involving all sorts of intelligence agencies around the world. One thing, however, would become clear: Assad and ISIS conspired against the revolution, the only question was the extent of their collaboration. Assad had already collaborated with ISI against the Americans in Iraq, something even his later ally Maliki accused him of. In Syria, not only would ISIS not fight Assad unless sporadically for show, Assad would not strike them at all. For Aleppo, December 2013 would become the beginning of a barrel bombing campaign more extreme than anything seen before and which would last for months on end. ISIS, however, was never targeted despite their absurdly visible huge black painted buildings and large convoys.
[ISIS' "religious" police in Menbij, Aleppo province.]
It has to be admitted that striking military targets, even those of the FSA and of others, was already not that common outside of battles on the front lines. Assad preferred to strike residential areas, hospitals, bakeries, breadlines, schools and cemeteries instead, so that the population would abandon the revolution in terror and desperation. However, in areas under ISIS’ control there were no air strikes at all. All the barrels that were saved in every single city, town and village occupied by ISIS, were unleashed upon what remained of the revolution’s liberated areas. Eventually, it became clear to everyone that ISIS’ entire mission in Syria was counter-revolutionary from the onset. Everything would change on 3 January 2014, when the growing consensus against ISIS and the necessary response to it manifested as an all out war.
There is more than enough blame to go around for the rise of ISIS in Aleppo and in Syria in general, and some are more to blame than others. Many mistakes were made in how the revolution dealt with the rise of ISIS, which at first essentially a continuation of the attitude towards Nusra. Too many compromises were made, fundamental developments were ignored for too long, and too many good people had been deceived. However, the main responsibility cannot lie with those in the worst of positions, those who have been suffering from Assad’s genocide and mass destruction, those who are desperately seeking to survive.
Despite that the guilty ones are Assad, Baghdadi, Khamenei, Putin, Nasrallah, Zawahiri and all their cronies swirling around them, some would like to blame it all on the Syrian revolution, much like everything else that happened in Syria. These are often the same people who have been absolving Assad from his crimes, denying Syrians their right to resist, and portraying the revolution as a grand scheme of imperialists and religious extremists. The Syrian people had awoken and rose up against Assad’s tyranny, while these critics carelessly continue to live in the comfort of a dream world.
[On the right: Khalid K., a bloodthirsty psychopath of Iraqi decent who had Dutch citizenship . He had been held by the Dutch intelligence agency [AIVD] for two weeks on suspicions of terrorism before he was released and left for Syria to join Nusra and later ISIS.]
It took the world at large more than a year to wake up to the horrors of ISIS, and only after it re-emerged in Iraq and took Mosul, the country’s second city. Their capture of Raqqa and more than a third of of the liberated areas from the revolution, much like Syria in general, remained under the radar for the most part. The long list of crimes ISIS had committed against the Syrian people were of little interest, they still are even today. One would have expected the opposite, considering much of the reporting about Syria trended around foreign fighters [on only one side] rather than the genocide. At the same time, this growing flow of people going to fight under the flag of Al Qaeda and ISIS was often belittled: their motivations were romanticised, their mental health unquestioned, and their efforts even hailed at times.
The governments of the countries of which they held citizenship did little to nothing to bring this flow to a halt. In some cases, there were even signs of encouragement. The same may even more so apply in particular to countries the invaders entered Syria from. bordering Releasing known terrorist suspects as occurred several times and throwing barely any obstacles ahead of them and others upon the same path doesn’t help dispelling conspiracy theories, even though incompetence and opportunism are what lies behind it. And for some, citizens rather than governments, these groups’ deception in terms of their slogans and fighting reputation, along with a bias against what truly drove the revolution, proved too much to process.
Unfortunately, the last to be consulted were the Syrian people, who did not ask for these terrorist groups and their followers to come to their aid. The revolution may have failed in preventing the rise of ISIS on its own, but it eventually rose up on its own on while others continued to look on. The 3rd of January 2014 offensive that was about to commence would bring a halt to ISIS’ expansion in Syria and set up its fall in more than half of the territories it had occupied by the end of 2013.