On March 15, 2011 a group of 200 mostly young protesters held a Arab Spring “Day of Rage” in the capital of Damascus to demand the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad.
The Days of Rage continue 34 months later, but the protestors are now targeting both Assad and the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), an international extremist group that evolved from al-Qaeda in Iraq and commandeered large swaths of Syrian rebel-held territory in 2013.
Many Syrians, including the Western-backed Syrian government-in-exile (SNC), have come to perceive the regime and the foreign fighter-dominated jihadist group are actually two sides of the same tyrant.
One civilian man in Idlib province told The Wall Street Journal that ISIS, which employed draconian laws and barbaric punishments in areas under its control, “is state security exactly like Assad, and people got tired of them telling what to do, and what not to do.”
This poster for a Day of Rage this Friday illustrates the notion perfectly:
After the largest Islamist rebel groups joined together late 2013, the Islamic Front has begun expelling ISIS from northern towns. Meanwhile, activists suspect that the regime is coordinating with ISIS fighters by shelling towns that ISIS is attempting to retake.
The ongoing fight, which has been brewing for months, will define the conflict going forward as the most powerful rebel groups seek to marginalize ISIS while also fighting government forces, Iranian soldiers, Hezbollah guerrilas, and Shia militiamen from Iraq (and other countries).
And the upcoming Day of Rage indicates that Syria’s revolutionaries have come full circle from March 2011: Still aiming to topple Assad, who now has two faces.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.