According to a series of interviews conducted by The Guardian, fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other Islamic military groups have either shifted their loyalty to the IS or have formed tactical alliances and struck truce deals with it. Support amid civilians also appears to be growing in some areas as a consequence of resentment over US-led military campaign in Syria.
Abu Talha, who defected from the FSA a few months ago, said that he was looking for "truthful jihadis," to fight by their side but could not find anyone better than the jihadis of the IS. He told his followers that he was going to join the group and that they were free to follow him or choose their own way. Shortly afterwards, more than 200 of his fellow fighters also declared their allegiance to the terror group.
Assam Murad, another fighter from a 600-strong FSA brigade near Homs, also said that there was no way they would fight IS now after the US military campaign against them.
Abu Zeid, the commander of an FSA brigade near Idlib and a defector from President Bashar al-Assad's army, remarked that the US coalition strikes have made people wonder why the US never came to rescue them from Assad's machine guns but has now rushed to fight the IS after it took "few pieces of land."
Talha said that the group is also gaining support because it implements social measures and improves security in the areas under its control. He added that the group has opened 57 free public restaurants in Raqqa city that provides three meals a day to any resident to foil any claim by a thief that he had to steal food in order to feed his children. The implementation of Sharia law has led to a fall in the crime rate in the areas under IS' control, he said.
Ali Sa'eed, a spokesman for the FSA revolutionary command in Idlib, said that more than 1,000 Al Nusra militants joined the ranks of the IS in a single week in August.