As revolution swept Syria in 2011, protest signs from Kafranbel, a town in Idlib province, began to go viral. Anti-government demonstrators shared messages — some combative, others sarcastic, and many of them heartbreaking — that they hoped would elicit international interest in their cause.

On the Internet, the banners remained a symbol of resistance to Damascus throughout Syria’s bloody civil war.

On Tuesday, Kafranbel fell back into the hands of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces are waging war across Idlib to regain the last main rebel-held part of Syria. The fighting has displaced nearly a million people, more than half of them children. A Syrian airstrike that killed at least 29 Turkish soldiers Thursday was an escalation in the ongoing military confrontation that involves Ankara, Damascus and Moscow.

One of the city’s protest leaders, and a force behind the banners, was Raed Fares, a citizen journalist who gained an international audience. He was shot dead outside his home in Kafranbel in 2018. Both the Islamic State and the Assad’s government had previously targeted him.

As the people of Kafranbel pushed for an international response at weekly demonstrations, the forces tearing at Syria — Assad and his allies Iran and Russia; rising infighting and extremism among rebels; the entry of the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and a slew of proxies — became too complex for protesters to describe in short slogans.

But they persisted, documenting the country’s descent into violence and chaos.