WATCH: Obama's Fight Against ISIS Is a Gamble, but One the U.S. Is Willing to Take

In Syria, Obama believes he can differentiate between 'good rebels' and 'bad rebels,' arming moderates with the hope that the situation there doesn't turn into another Afghanistan, says START's Dr. Gary Ackerman.

Aimee Amiga
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Aimee Amiga interviews Gary Ackerman, Sept. 2014.
Aimee Amiga

U.S. President Barack Obama knows that expanding his military operation against Islamic State militants from Iraq to Syria is a gamble, but one the United States is willing to take.

That according to Dr. Gary Ackerman, director of the Special Projects Division at START, the largest terrorism research center in the world.

In an interview with Aimee Amiga for, Ackerman said the moderate rebels of today can become the extremists of tomorrow and, as such, arming them to support their fight against Islamic State could backfire. However, he said, the White House believes it now knows how to differentiate between "good rebels" and "bad rebels," and will empower them with the hope that the situation in Syria does not turn into another Afghanistan, where the United States armed what was to become Al-Qaida.

In their interview, Amiga and Ackerman also looked at whether the United States' fight against extremist rebels would in effect turn Obama into Syrian President Bashar Assad's ally, and whether U.S. airstrikes in Syria would be considered a violation of the latter's sovereignty under international law.

Click here for Part Two of this interview, "U.S., Iran May Collaborate Secretly on ISIS, Analyst Says."

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