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Initially, Syrians fighting the brutal regime of President al-Assad welcomed ISIL when it first reared its head in early 2013. They admired the fighters’ piety, discipline and fighting prowess and, joining the ISIL ranks, some saw the radical group as an alternative to the corruption that had begun to beset the moderate Free Syrian Army forces. Yet, as people began to realize the depth of ISIL’s radical views, popular support began to wane. By early 2014, other opposition forces united under the banners of the Syrian Revolutionary Front to battle ISIL. A report by McClatchy estimated that, by mid-February, the SRF campaign had managed to dislodge ISIL from about half their bases in Syria.

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