Isis video Assad soldiers
A recent video of IS on parade.

At the beginning of the Syrian revolution people came out against the Assad regime with specific demands based on toppling it, fostering principles of freedom and dignity and building a democratic state based on these core tenets.

The emergence of a raft of poisonous extremist groups, of which Isis is the most notorious, has allowed President Bashar al-Assad to claim the revolution is a terrorist coup rather than a popular uprising. But the Arab and the Western world knows Assad's dirty game and understands that the simple people want democracy, and aren't represented by Isis or any other extremist group.

However the general civil involvement in the revolution has gradually begun to decline in recent months, largely due to the atrocities committed by Isis and other groups. They have entered areas which have been liberated by rebel fighters, fought the opposing factions and massacred them, without any justification. They have begun to arrest activists of the revolution and we have seen cases of abduction, forced displacement, and even the execution of those who oppose the 'Islamic Caliphate' project.

When Raqqa was liberated by the Free Syrian Army, we experienced three months of genuine freedom. But after the entry of the militants, things became awful; IS assumed the role previously performed by the regime, but this time in the name of religion, or what they see as religion. Isis swiftly began to arrest the majority of those who participated in the revolution, either members of the FSA or ordinary civilians, as well as members of the media. In all they have notched up more than 1,200 arrests.

It's well known that the majority of Syrian people are Muslim, yet they categorically reject the actions of IS because it has no relevance to Islam. The videos broadcast by IS on YouTube have sparked horror and revulsion among ordinary Syrians, yet they can't do anything.

An IS thug grips Steven Sotloff by the collar in chilling video which featured threats to murder US reporter
US journalist Steven Sotloff is shown in an IS video. IS has threatened to kill Sotloff like fellow reporter James Foley.

Two sides of the same coin

I recently spoke to a 26-year-old living in Raqqa, Hazam Hassan, who told me that IS and Assad are two sides of the same terrorist coin, and there is no difference between what they do. While IS claim to be acting in the name of Islam, our religion is about tolerance and good deeds; they don't represent us. IS try to distort Islam by cutting off heads and executing people arbitrarily – people don't want them here.

The IS militants have committed crimes against humanity, most recently in the village of Alsaitat In Deir al-Zour, northeastern Syri, where the organisation executed more than 800 sons of the city in cold blood simply for resisting them. People simply do not accept them, do not accept the horrific crimes they are committing.

People in Syria debate where IS came from. I personally believe they are spawned by two very different factors: firstly the religion of Islam, which is interpreted by different people in so many different ways, and secondly the culture of Syria – the cultural components that live inside us.

Yet, amidst all the questions and theory, there is one simply reality: that Isis has terrorised the civilians of this country and, just like the Assad regime, has no place in the hearts of our people.

Zaid al-Fares is a photojournalist who was recently forced to leave Raqqa following the arrival of Isis.