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Rise of Radical Jihadists Setback for Syria

US military intervention would not have prevented, and will not prevent, radical jihadism in Syria.

The recent gruesome video of a Syrian rebel soldier, Khalid al-Hamad, mutilating a corpse has triggered shock and outrage, fueling a tense debate over the wisdom of supporting the armed uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. While some consider the video as the ultimate proof that backing the rebels is a bad idea, others view the radicalization and increasing brutality of the armed opposition as a direct result of the weak Western response and US dithering. This later opinion is based on the assumption that an early and decisive intervention in support of the moderate factions of the Syrian rebels would have marginalized the radicals and reduced their recruiting abilities.

While debating the brutal war in Syria — and the possible solutions and the inherit risks associated with each option — there are a few issues to consider about radical groups, the factors that help increase their power, and, more important, whether early military intervention would have prevented the radicalization of the Syrian opposition.

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