It was, in some places.
But (and I am speaking as one who has Syrian relatives who live there) the Syrian matter was always staged. Assad was a relatively benign dictator, as Middle Eastern dictators go; you had to really be an advanced pain in the ass over there to get the police to pick you up. And even then, you’d most likely just have to cool your jets in a shitty cell for a couple of weeks before you were let out.
When the Arab Spring happened, the economy in Syria was going great guns. Standards of living were rising; I have family members over here who were investing over there real estate, because real estate was doing what it does under a booming economy.
Booming economies are not the stuff from which rebellion comes.
Anyway, suddenly, these mythical groups called “moderate Syrian rebels” appeared on the scene. There was never such a thing as a “moderate Syrian rebel” — — they were all tied in one way or another with local religious radical groups who are perennially offended because Assad is a member of a religious minority group (the Alawites, who the Sunnis don’t believe are really Muslim) and his wife is a Christian. Anyway, the weapons started flowing, the US narrative that Assad-Must-Go got started (obviously, since he is an enemy of Israel and an ally of Iran) and things started to go to hell in a handbasket.
As the local groups started to lose ground, unfortunately, their US-supplied arms somehow (heh) found their way into the hands of ISIS. That sucked, so the Russians came in (not of the goodness of their hearts, but they saw the opportunity to become a geopolitical player) which marginalized the effects of the US forces there.
So, now we have isolated pockets of religious resistance still remaining (not for much longer) and the Kurdish militia, who want to establish their own sovereign nation, controlling the northwest. Not that the Kurds are all bad; they’re probably better to have around than the central government, but there’s oil in that zone…… so eventually the Syrian regulars are going to have to clean it out, too.
So, in Syria…..not so “legitimate” a movement. It was astroturfed….by us. And the biggest problem the US faces is that still today, if Assad were ever forced into a free and fair election….. he’d probably win. Which is why the narrative always is “he has to go” not “stand for election.”
Hope that helps.