'Following comments from Syria's al-Qaeda affiliate that the Free Syrian Army 'does not exist', a campaign was launched by Syrian activists to highlight the wide-reach the moderate rebel group has inside the country. Jolani's remarks were strikingly similar to those made by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who described the FSA as a "phantom group".
All through the Saturday night, Syrians took to social media to counter Jolani's statement with slogans such as "the Free Syrian Army represents me" and "we are the free Syrian army" widely used. One widely shared photo on social media showed a wall with graffiti reading: "The Free Syrian Army, I know them and who they are, but who are you? The revolution continues". Another Syrian activist using the name Mohammed said, "The Syrian revolution is the pride of our people and the pride of the Syrian revolution is the FSA."
took the campaign further still and went out onto the streets of Aleppo to find out from resident if the Free Syrian Army did exist. "There is an FSA and they are our brothers," one man told the reporter. Other residents of the war-torn Aleppo said that the FSA had a strong presence in the north Syria city.
In response to the campaign, Nusra officials said that that they did not deny the organisation's existence and even commended their work in the "Hama tank massacre", where the defending FSA fighters managed to block the regime offensive and destroyed 15 armoured vehicles.
During a later press conference, the Nusra leader backtracked on his earlier remarks and said that he had only implied that the FSA was not "one faction".'