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Robert Ford

Warnings of jihadists among Syria's rebels came early, were ignored

WASHINGTON In the first week of September 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry appeared before congressional hearings in hopes of drumming up support for the Obama administration's plan to retaliate militarily for the Syrian government's deadly use of chemical weapons outside Damascus. The secretary's pitch included some rare good news about the conflict, which by then was in its third bloody year. "The opposition is getting stronger by the day," Kerry assured members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He painted a picture of model partners for the United States, saying the rebel movement had "increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more...