(The cross on top of Armenian Catholic Church of the Martyrs in the northern rebel-held Syrian city of Raqqa, which was replaced by the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Photo: AFP)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite years of diplomacy and a CIA operation to vet and train moderate rebels, the US finds itself without a credible partner on the ground in Syria as it bombs the Islamic State group. That’s a potentially serious flaw in its strategy to ultimately defeat the militants.
Obama administration officials have long conceded that airstrikes alone won’t drive IS from its strongholds across Syria and Iraq, but it also has ruled out the use of American ground troops. The US strategy to crush IS rests on the use of local proxy forces, and hinges on plans to use $500 million and a base in Saudi Arabia to build an army of moderate Syrian rebels.
The ground force component has always been seen as a challenge in Syria, but the difficulty has become clearer in recent days. Officials acknowledge that the US doesn’t trust any Syrian rebel groups enough to coordinate on the air campaign, despite attempts by some pro-Western fighters to pass along intelligence about IS positions.
The CIA has secretly trained and is paying more than 1,000 moderates to help achieve the administration’s stated objective of overthrowing Syrian President Bashar Assad, US officials have said…
There are undoubtedly Syrian “moderates” in existence, but they are far less likely than religious fanatics to risk their lives fighting. The moderates are probably not very religious if at all. Thus has Islam advanced over the past 1400 years: a ‘religion’ dreamed up by a warlord and spread by violence and intimidation.