Candid Associated Press Article: US-backed rebels advance in south, with Al-Qaeda’s help

Associated PressTHE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR/AP (11/28/14) — Syrian rebels backed by the United States are making their biggest gains yet south of the capital Damascus, capturing a string of towns from government forces and aiming to carve out a swath of territory leading to the doorstep of President Bashar Assad’s seat of power.

The rebel forces are believed to include fighters who graduated from a nearly 2-year-old CIA training program based in Syria’s southern neighbor Jordan.

Notably, in the south, the rebels are working together with fighters from al-Qaida’s Syria branch, whose battle-hardened militants have helped them gain the momentum against government forces. The cooperation points to the difficulty in American efforts to build up “moderate” factions while isolating militants.

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