Syrian rebels had a bad year in 2013. While the mainstream rebel groups struggled to defend their front lines from the resurgent Assad regime, a renegade al Qaeda offshoot, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), launched a series of assaults. ISIS' attacks on the formerly-dominant Free Syrian Army (FSA) brigades came from behind, and led to the capture of their strongholds in rebel-held northern Syria, and the execution of their commanders. But now the rebels are fighting back.
In a campaign supported by both the Saudi and US governments, a coalition of former FSA brigades — rebranded as the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF) — launched a surprise offensive against ISIS in the spring of 2014. VICE News was the first western video crew to go into northern Syria for 6 months, embedding with the SRF as they re-imposed their rule over the country's northwestern Idlib province. What we witnessed was a brief window into a complex and morally ambiguous conflict.