DAY 951 - OCTOBER 15, 2013
In response to threats of Western intervention, the Syrian Electronic Army, a group of pro-regime hackers, breaks into the websites of The New York Times, The Washington Post, Twitter, CNN, TIME Magazine, Global Post, and the US Marine Corps. Russia denies that the Syrian government was behind the chemical attacks, attesting that it was a false flag planted by jihadist rebels. After much deliberation, the United States and the Syrian government reach an agreement that allows international inspectors to start destroying Assad's chemical weapons by way of a deal brokered by the Russian Federation. Two more journalists are kidnapped near Al Raqqa and the Turkish border, dissuading more journalists from entering the country and consequently bringing the international coverage of the conflict to a halt. Thirteen rebel factions in Syria, break off from the FSA-backed Syrian National Council and form the Islamic Coalition, which further fractures the aims of the already disjointed Syrian opposition.
You try calling Jeremy again when you are safely across the Turkish border, but his phone is off. You can tell the Bab Al Hawa crossing, which you used to pass in and out of Syria, is becoming more unsafe. Jihadists wrapped in black balaclavas drift among the tired FSA soldiers. The only reason you are not kidnapped on your trip back is because Abu Aarif joins you in the car when you get to Idlib and vouches for you, to the chagrin of many ISIS members, at each checkpoint. He tells you that it's only a matter of time before ISIS takes over the FSA base and imposes their own radical interpretation of Islam. He tells you the momentum is shifting in their favor and they have the international support to keep it up. You don't disagree with him. You think about your two friends, Jeremy and Michael, who came to Syria with you. You think about how they are now only a statistic of the Syrian conflict. One killed, one missing. That is that. Countless others have seem the same fate over the past two and half years and for what? You're unsure.