Conflict & Justice

Washington Struggles to Find Allies in Syrian Opposition

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Credit: REUTERS

Syrians cross the border from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain to the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, December 4, 2012. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT)

Syrian rebels and their backers are gaining momentum in their struggle to topple President Bashar al-Assad. NATO Tuesday approved the deployment of Patriot anti-missile batteries along Turkey's border with Syria after meeting with their Russian counterpart. Russia had opposed the Patriot deployment. But Tuesday, the Russians said they would not interfere with Turkey's right to defend itself from the civil war on the other side of the border.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

Andrew Tabler is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute and author of the book In the Lion's Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington's Battle with Syria. Tabler says the Syrian opposition despises Russia, and it's not fond of the White House either.

"The Syrian opposition … holds the Obama administration responsible for standing by while it was abused and brutalized," says Tabler. "So the United States isn't going to have many allies in a post-Assad Syria."

He adds that some factions within the rebel movement are openly hostile to Washington.

"They openly taunt the Obama administration that they're going to set up their own no-fly zone, that they don't need America's help, and that they're very angry. And a number of them out of Idlib province have been openly calling for an Islamic State," Tabler says. "So it's not a victory for the Obama administration."

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