File - Jan. 15, 2014, shows a test drone as it is is launched by catapult as a trail plane follows on a ranch near Sarita, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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U.S. spy agencies face a difficult task in tracking Islamic jihadists in Syria, as Washington lacks a robust network of informants and faces threats to its drone fleet, experts and former officials say.Unlike in Pakistan's tribal areas, or in Iraq, the United States has been largely absent in Syria for years and has not built up a web of relationships that it could use to monitor the movements of ISIS senior figures.In comparison, the U.S. faces conditions in Syria that render it practically blind, one former official said.With the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq, and a cautious approach to the civil war raging in Syria, America lacks a precise picture of its ISIS adversaries there, according to Rubin.With the United States possibly poised to bomb a major foe of the Assad regime, it is unlikely Damascus would fire surface-to-air missiles on American warplanes and risk triggering U.S. retaliation, said Gary Samore, a former senior adviser to Obama on arms control.
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