Since the beginning of the war, rebel fighters have been attracted to the strongest and richest groups. In the last six months, funding for moderate groups has slowed significantly, with private Gulf donors spooked by the uptick of anti-terrorist financing laws. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s forces, meanwhile, have been bolstered by Iranian, Lebanese Hezbollah and Afghan Shia militias.
For rebels, the thought of joining IS or Al Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra, a strong, secure and well-funded operation, grows more appealing. “It’s bad for us, the Syrians, that the funding pulls us around,” sighs Iyad. “At the beginning of the revolution, when the funding came from the sheikhs, people grew beards. Then when the funding came from the international community, people started to shave and wear suits.” "