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Syria's moderate rebels still losing ground to extremists

The ascendance of Islamic groups among Syria's opposition has clouded prospects for more advanced weapons to be provided to moderate factions.
A rebel fighter gestures as he runs across a street in Mleha suburb of Damascus, during what the rebel fighters said was an offensive against them by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, April 2, 2014. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh   (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR3JQRF
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Fear of armed Islamist groups in Syria has been a major sticking point between the United States and its regional allies in determining the quality of arms supplied to Syrian rebels. It was again high on the agenda on March 28 when US President Barack Obama touched down in Riyadh for a brief visit.

According to the Washington Post, Obama was considering backing down from his stern opposition to arming rebels with more advanced weaponry, including anti-aircraft missiles, or MANPADs. The Saudis have long pressed Western powers to arm rebel factions fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with sophisticated weapons, hoping it would turn the tide in the opposition’s favor in the three-year, brutal conflict.

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