July 21st, 2013
06:41 AM ET

Former commander of US Central Command cautions against U.S. military involvement in Syria without an endgame

Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories and opinion pieces surrounding the Aspen Security Forum. which took place from July 17 to 20 in Aspen, Colorado. Security Clearance was a media sponsor of the event.

By CNN's Alison Harding

A former commander of U.S. Central Command said the United States needs to determine an endgame in Syria before it takes further military action in the beleaguered country.

In a panel moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, retired Gen. James Mattis told the Aspen Security Forum on Saturday that escalated involvement in Syria by the U.S. military would lead to “a full-throated, very, very serious war.”

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Filed under: Gen. Mattis • Syria
Official: Al Qaeda-affiliated groups gaining strength in Syria
July 21st, 2013
02:20 AM ET

Official: Al Qaeda-affiliated groups gaining strength in Syria

By Elise Labott, reporting from Aspen, Colorado

Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories and opinion pieces surrounding the Aspen Security Forum. which took place from July 17 to 20 in Aspen, Colorado. Security Clearance was a media sponsor of the event.

Al Qaeda-affiliated groups are gaining strength in Syria, giving an edge to extremists in the country, a top military intelligence official said Saturday.

David Shedd, deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Aspen Security Forum that extremist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, which has publicly pledged allegiance to al Qaeda, have been the most successful in operations against troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

"It is very clear over the last two years they have grown in size, grown in capability and ruthlessly grown in effectiveness. Their ability to take the fight to the regime and Hezbollah in a very direct way has been, among those groups, the most effective," he said.

Left unchecked, he said, more radical elements of the opposition would have a greater role, eclipsing moderates in a post-Assad Syria. "They will not go home when it is over," Shedd said. "They will fight for that space. They are there for the long haul."

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