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By challenging moderate Syrian rebels, the group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has forced them to fight on two fronts and divert resources from their battle with the government of President Bashar al-Assad, the official said.
And by presenting an extremist face to the world, the official said, the group is aiding Mr. Assad’s efforts to portray the conflict in Syria as a tug of war between the government and jihadists.
“That has to give the regime comfort and confidence, and it will make the task of extracting concessions from the regime at the negotiating table more difficult,” said the official, who declined to be identified in keeping with the State Department’s protocol for briefing reporters on active diplomacy." (read more at link)