2013 was a bad year for the Syrian rebels. While the mainstream rebels struggled to defend their frontlines from the resurgent Assad regime, a renegade al Qaeda offshoot—the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—launched a series of assaults on the formerly-dominant FSA brigades from behind, capturing their strongholds in rebel-held northern Syria and executing their commanders. Now the rebels are fighting back.
A coalition of former FSA brigades, funded by Saudi Arabia and rebranded as the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (or SRF), launched a surprise offensive against ISIS in the spring of 2014, in a campaign supported by both the Saudi and US governments.
VICE News was the first western TV crew into Northern Syria for six months, embedding with the SRF as they reimposed their rule over the country's northwestern Idlib province. What we witnessed was a brief window into a complex and morally ambiguous conflict with no end in sight.