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Family ties fuel Islamic State to rebel pipeline in northern Syria

The stories of fighters who turned from the Islamic State to Syria's rebel opposition forces show the how kinship ties, regionalism, and material concerns often trump ideology in the Syrian war.
Syrian national army

As the Islamic State’s meteoric rise reversed course in 2016, the terror organization’s fighters in northeast Syria faced a critical question: where could they flee after years of antagonizing local communities?

Those motivated by ideology to fight to the end, or lacking an avenue to escape, moved from one area to the next as IS lost territory. Thousands of these men were killed in combat or imprisoned, their families consigned to indefinite detention.

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