Al-Qaida, its branches and sympathizers viewed the 2011 Syrian uprising, which turned into a civil war, as a great opportunity to expand their reach. Of all of the Arab Spring countries, Syria was the most prized because of its religio-historical significance, relative closeness to the West (compared with other battlefields of jihad) and proximity to Israel with its jihadist-coveted city of Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque. What al-Qaida viewed as a promise, though, has turned into a nightmare because of its now existential battle with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) for supremacy of the global jihadist movement.
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