al-Qaeda-linked ISIS militia makes show of force in Syria

This is one of several pictures posted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) of a convoy of theirs in eastern Aleppo.

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The al-Qaeda-linked militia groups have had great success in the past several months- large defections from the internationally-recognized Syria opposition, territorial gains, and a large amount of notoriety for the same amount of brutality that Americans would (hopefully) remember from Iraq.

Map of fighting and territorial control in Syria's Civil War (Free Syrian Army rebels, Kurdish groups, Al-Nusra Front, ISIS/ISIL and others), updated for December 2013. Includes recent locations of conflict and territorial control changes, Al-Safira, Khanaser, Maaloula, Qara, Nabek, and .
Control of Syria, December 2013
Credit to: Evan Centanni (http://www.polgeonow.com/)

 The situation has been a mess since the conflict’s inception in 2011. It’s important to realize that whoever gains and loses power will dictate present or future conflicts in Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq at the least. Even with a bunch of lousy options, the Western powers have to recognize that large and dangerous fundamentalist militias did not exist at the start of the conflict. They do now. And if they get a lot more tanks like the one pictured, the fallout will be everyone’s problem.

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