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 6 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.