File - Free Syrian Army fighters look at the sky as they stand on a truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun in Maarat Al-Nouman, Idlib province May 20, 2014. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
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Despite years of diplomacy and a CIA operation to vet and train moderate rebels, the U.S. finds itself without a credible partner on the ground in Syria as it bombs the radical group ISIS.The U.S. strategy to crush ISIS rests on the use of local proxy forces, and hinges on plans to use $500 million and a base in Saudi Arabia to build an army of moderate Syrian rebels.Officials acknowledge that the U.S. doesn't trust any Syrian rebel groups enough to coordinate on the air campaign, despite attempts by some pro-Western fighters to pass along intelligence about ISIS positions.Those fighters have been gaining ground against Assad in southern Syria and in some places are fighting ISIS, said Robert Ford, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria.As Americans have bombed ISIS positions elsewhere, Syrian government forces have advanced in northern Aleppo province, Abu Thabet said. Moderate factions like his are trapped between ISIS fighters on one side and government forces on another, and the U.S. has not once hit ISIS along the 12-mile (19.3-kilometer) front it occupies against his group, he said.
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