This information is not widely known today. American media makes no mention of "moderate opposition" collaboration with extremist groups past or present. Many Western pundits go so far as to allege cooperation between ISIS and the Syrian Government, ignoring past ISIS cooperation with the FSA. The battles of 2013 turn this narrative on its head.
The Battle of Raqqa: March 3-6, 2013. The battle of Raqqa was a joint offensive launched by the FSA along with Ahrar al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra/al-Qaeda and ISIS. Raqqa city was poorly defended due to the Syrian Government incorrectly believing that the rebels would never attempt an offensive to take the city. In total only 400 Syrian Army soldiers defended the provincial capital, resulting in the city falling in mere days.
FSA, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra flags fly together in Raqqa on March 29th, 2013.
March 29th, 2013.
May 3rd, 2013. FSA, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra flags together.
May 24th, 2013.
May 24th, 2013.
May 31st, 2013.
ISIS filmed by FSA media in Raqqa city. July 4th, 2013.
October 5th, 2013.
December 20th, 2013.
August 4th, 2013. The FSA and ISIS begin the "Operation to Liberate the Coast" offensive in the Province of Latakia. Latakia is home to a large percentage of Alawites, the sect shared by president Bashar Assad. Alawites are seen as infidels to the rebels, who are entirely Sunni. The rebel offensive launched from their stronghold of Salma, with several villages quickly being captured using combined tactics of extremists and moderates. Suicide bombers and anti-tank missiles led to a quick advance. The Alawite population largely managed to flee the rebel/ISIS offensive, but a few hundred were captured or executed. Some of these hostages continued to be held by the FSA until their release in early 2017.
FSA leader Salim Idris surveying the Latakia battlefield.
FSA advancing through Latakia. This FSA unit is called "Jabhat al-Asala wa al-Tanmia," and as of 2017 it continues to fight in Northern Syria.
FSA fighter giving the Tawhid Salute, much like his extremist counterparts.
Captured Syrian Army ammunition.
ISIS T-55 advancing.
FSA T-55 shelling Syrian Army positions.
ISIS firing into the mountain towns of rural Latakia.
FSA with KPV 14.5mm and ZU-23-2 techincals firing on the town of Balatah.
ISIS firing a mortar.
FSA heavy machine gun firing on Syrian Army positions.
ISIS going house to house executing "infidels."
ISIS with captured Alawite civilians. These captives were held by ISIS in 2013, but were at some point transferred into FSA custody. The FSA finally released the hostages in early 2017.
The Battle of Minnagh Airbase. Aleppo Province, 2012-2013.
The battle of Minnagh Airbase began on the 2nd of August, 2012. The airbase was put under siege by the FSA for about a year, with the rebels trying to break into it several times without success. The airbase was only captured after ISIS joined the battle alongside the other rebel groups in August of 2013. ISIS used VBIEDs (Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device) to destroy the gates of the base and break the Syrian Government's defensive positions. After the chaos of the explosion the surviving Government forces inside the airbase retreated and made it to Kurdish lines near the city of Afrin. The Free Syrian Army, alongside ISIS, then declared Minnagh Airbase "liberated."
Before ISIS joined the battle the FSA shelled Minnagh Airbase with various weapons. They tried several times to advance inside the airbase with no success, the most they could manage to do was to harass the defenders inside the base.
FSA Northern Storm Brigade S-60 57mm shelling Minnagh, May 2013.
FSA T-55 shelling the Airbase, June 2013.
FSA prepare to fire a Malyutka ATGM at a tank near the perimeter of the Airbase, July 2013.
After a year of shelling, the FSA realized they would not be able to take the base alone. ISIS was brought in to prepare for the final battle for Minnagh Airbase.
ISIS VBIED based on a BMP-1 being prepared for battle. Filmed by FSA media.
August 5th, 2013. An ISIS suicide bomber drives the VBIED into the airbase.
ISIS Al-Hayat media view of the explosion.
FSA Northern Storm Brigade media view of the explosion.
FSA Nour al-Din al-Zenki media view of the explosion.
ISIS fighters then stormed the airbase with infantry, leading to its capture. Pictures from ISIS Al-Hayat media.
A Syrian Army tank shell hits ISIS fighters as they advance into the airbase.
ISIS fighter with an RPG-29.
ISIS shelling the airbase with an M-46.
ISIS fighters advance inside Minnagh Airbase. An Mi-17 helicopter is seen in the background.
FSA inside Minnagh Airbase after it was captured with the help of ISIS.
ISIS flags flying above the base.
FSA inside one of the airbase's hangers.
The FSA Northern Storm Brigade paraded victoriously with ISIS after Minnagh airbase fell. Their flags and logo are painted on the hoods of their trucks.
Omar al-Shishani, an infamous ISIS leader, visiting the airbase after it was captured.
Colonel Okaidi, at the time a leader of the Free Syrian Army, alongside an ISIS fighter in Minnagh Airbase. He praises both the FSA and ISIS for its capture.
The same ISIS fighter was interviewed by Al-Jazeera inside the airbase.
September 11-12, 2013. ISIS and Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki (an FSA affiliated group) launch an offensive to capture the Brigade 66 Army Base in Northern Hama. Zenki attacked targets within the base using anti-tank guided missiles and tanks, while ISIS stormed the base with armored vehicles and infantry.
T-72AV shelling Brigade 66, filmed by Zenki media.
Zenki destroys a Syrian Army tank guarding the entrance of Brigade 66 using an HJ-8 ATGM.
Infantry storm the base. The tank zenki destroyed with an ATGM is seen still burning.
Once rebel/ISIS infantry entered the base, a short fight ensued with the Syrian Army before the base was fully captured. ISIS media displayed spoils from the base including ammo, anti-aircraft guns and tanks. Omar al-shishani inspected the base and their new weapons, won with the help of the US-backed Free Syrian Army.
ISIS raise their flag over Brigade 66.
Omar al-Shishani inside the base atop a T-72AV. This is likely the same tank pictured in Zenki media shelling brigade 66 before the base was captured. This is evidence of the high level of cooperation between the two groups.
Shishani with a captured T-72 behind him.
Captured weapons inside Brigade 66. An S-124 Neva/Pechora Surface to Air Missile. These missiles and their captured radars were of no use to ISIS as they did not know how to operate them. It is unlikely that this missile was serviceable in the first place.
Captured ZU-23-2 used by the Syrian Army to defend the base.
Captured T-62 tank.
The CIA-backed FSA and ISIS were originally one and the same. This fact is denied by many pundits, but the evidence above speaks for itself.