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ISIS advance should mean more arms for Syrian opposition

The advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) into Iraq should spur action to bolster moderate Syrian opposition groups against both ISIS and the Assad government.
Free Syrian Army fighters stand at a former base used by fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), after the ISIL withdrew from the town of Azaz, near the Syrian-Turkish border, March 11, 2014. Syrian refugees in this border outpost were delighted to hear their home town of Azaz had been liberated - not from Bashar al-Assad's troops but from al-Qaeda fighters who subjected them to a regime that included torture and public beheadings. For Syrians who three years ago rose up against 43 ye

Motivation and discipline alone do not explain how several hundred jihadists are able to overrun large swaths of territory defended by tens of thousands of Iraqi troops.

The emergence in Iraq of an Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)-Sunni alliance should not come as a surprise: The writing was on the wall when Sunni Iraqi tribesmen rose in protest against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government. In its recent incursion into Iraq, ISIS was assisted by scores of disenchanted Sunni Iraqi tribesmen reeling from the sectarian policies of Maliki’s Shiite government. Nor is the rapid growth in ISIS’s power surprising: In addition to extortion, ransom money and other illicit activities that terrorist groups usually engage in, ISIS has received significant sums of money from wealthy Gulf donors and attracted thousands of recruits (including American, European and North African jihadists) through its deft use of social media.

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