How did al Qaeda get to where it is in Syria today?

Article/Op-Ed in TRT World
Aug. 1, 2017

Oubai Shahbandar wrote an article for TRT World about al Qaeda's rise to power in Syria: 

US official Brett McGurk recently implied that Turkey is to blame for al Qaeda's rise in northwestern Syria. The reality is that the blame lies with Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad, who allowed al Qaeda to take advantage of US policy failures.

“How did [al Qaeda leader] Ayman al Zawahiri’s deputy end up in Idlib [Syria]? Did he parachute in?”, asked Special Presidential Envoy to the anti-Daesh coalition Brett McGurk at a recent panel in Washington D.C.

A diplomatic uproar ensued when the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a strongly worded demarche to the US government pushing back against insinuations that McGurk had made that suggested that Turkey was solely to blame for the rise of an al Qaeda affiliate in north western Syria.