Free Syrian Army fighters are silhouetted as they stand on one of the front lines of Wadi Al-Daif camp in the southern Idlib countryside, September 2014. 
Khalil Ashawi / Reuters

For the past two years, Washington has focused its attention on northern Syria, where it has attempted to strengthen the Syrian Democratic Forces and rout the so-called Islamic State (also called ISIS). It has paid much less attention to southern Syria. That is a mistake; the United States has an opportunity there to consolidate and expand upon recent rebel gains. A relatively modest assistance program from Washington could help the local factions expel ISIS from its small enclave in the region and gradually dissolve the local al Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. Building up the military capabilities of the rebel forces and improving their fragile system of governance could ultimately transform them into a credible threat to the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.

What’s more, strengthening the rebels’ position in the south may convince the half million Druze in the southwestern city Sweida to turn away from

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  • EHUD YA'ARI is a Lafer International Fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
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