The fall of the town has the potential to disrupt rebel supply lines. The crossing itself, one of the few between Syria and Turkey that are still functional, remained in the hands of the more moderate Free Syrian Army on Wednesday night, despite reports that Islamic State was mounting an offensive to take it. […]“There is a huge expansion of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,” said Col. Malik al-Kurdi, a senior commander in the Free Syrian Army, who said the extremists had also recently seized the town of Kafarnaje. With Islamic State well-financed and armed, “the FSA power is in reversal,” he said.
The WaPo can’t help but notice the timing of the jihadists’ assault. Here’s the money quote:
Islamic State’s offensive comes after a lull in activity for the group as it lay low, fearing that it could be targeted in U.S. airstrikes.
The biggest winner in fights between rival anti-Assad groups is, of course, Assad. America’s reluctance to aid the moderate rebels and enthusiasm for the Russian chemical weapons deal have both contributed to Assad’s position of power. Had President Obama never demanded that Assad “must go”, the world might simply have concluded that the White House, rightly or wrongly, decided on a pro-Assad policy. That the President repeatedly demanded Assad’s ouster, then made decisions that helped keep him in power, makes the White House look confused and ham-handed, not cunning and resolute.The fight between al-Qaeda linked rebels and “moderate” ones is yet another example of the costs of a Syria policy of dithering and half measures. More aid to the anti-al-Qaeda rebels might have shortened the war and avoided this disastrous development. The fact of the matter is that the United States and its allies cannot allow al-Qaeda a secure base in the heart of the Middle East. If the rebels and the government can’t prevent this from happening, then ultimately we will have to do something ourselves.Failing to act sometimes traps you into more dramatic and expensive actions down the road.[Photo courtesy Getty Images.]