DAY 876 - AUGUST 1, 2013
Buoyed by the ISIS takeover in many parts of Eastern Syria, Al Qaeda members perform a daring prison break at Abu Ghraib, the famed US jailhouse used during the American occupation in Iraq. Consequently, Al Qaeda frees more than 500 high-ranking terrorists into the Iraqi desert and Israel's Director of Military Intelligence warns that Syria is becoming a hotbed for global jihadists. Britain and France confirm that Sarin gas was used in Syria during the spring. In response, UN weapons inspectors say they will visits three locations where chemical weapons were allegedly deployed. Iran, one of Assad's strongest allies, extends a $3.6 billion credit line to Syria while Russia pushes forward with arms shipments to the regime, despite intense international pressure to break ties with the Syrian government. Furthermore Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, promises to propel Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's forces to victory. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon says that the situation in Syria has now claimed over 100,000 lives.
The Battle of Qusayr doesn't end well for the rebel forces. After being pushed out of the city limits, Farouq and the jihadist brigades fortify a captured regime airbase to the northwest of the city. Fighting intensifies but eventually Assad's air raids, again, prove to be too strong for opposition fighters. You are forced to retreat with Mustafa Omar and the rest of the survivors back towards Homs. You write an in-depth investigative piece about the proliferation of Captagon among young Syrian rebels for Reuters that gets a lot of pick up by other news agencies around the world. Your brush with action in Al Qusayr, however, does not leave you hankering for combat. And with Al Qaeda leaders streaming into Syria after the prison break at Abu Ghraib, you think it's about time to plan your exit strategy. You call Jeremy, whom you haven't heard from in several weeks, but there is no answer. You try again, same story.