In Syria ISIS Focus Is on Rival Rebels, Not Assad

ISIS Insists It Needs to Take More Rebel Territory First

The Syrian Civil War has gotten so convoluted and created so many rival factions, that sometimes it’s hard to know who is fighting against who at any given time. It also gives rise to conspiracy theories.

One of those theories is that ISIS and the Assad government are secretly in league, since the two largest factions in Syria rarely clash directly, and rather focus on the smaller players.

It’s not as though they never fight, of course. Syria launched high profile attacks on the ISIS capital of Raqqa earlier this month, and ISIS is still bragging about the recent capture of a Syrian airbase in Raqqa Province.

And while other rebels grouse about the comparatively little ISIS help against Assad, it was really those rebels who started attacking ISIS in the spring, and ISIS has turned the tables on them, expanding their territory at the expense of the other rebels.

For their part, ISIS is presenting the direct fight against Assad as “step 2,” saying they need to consolidate the rebel territories first before they can make a serious run on Assad territory. Similarly, the Assad government is seeing the smaller rebels as easy pickings with the US airstrikes and the internal rebel fighting keeping ISIS mostly at bay.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of