The U.S. commitment to aiding the Syrian opposition against the brutal regime of Bashar Assad has been one of many words and few deeds. Repeated pledges of support absent material assistance have allowed fringe elements to establish themselves in northern Syria. If this trend persists, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s warning of “efforts by extremists to hijack the Syrian revolution” will soon become reality.

During a recent three-week trip to the Middle East, I observed both encouraging and disturbing developments. I went into Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and industrial capital, to see how Syrians were coping with chaos. About 75 percent of Aleppo is under opposition control.

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