Most groups engaged in conflict in Syria are being leveraged by some or other external power. It is beyond debate or rather is well documented that the US or NATO has leveraged several affiliates of Al Qaeda in different conflicts.
The irony is that in a region of such noisy anti-Americanism, there is no regime which is actually interested in the US departing from Afghanistan, whatever the public postures.
Numbers of US troops departing are quite as unpredictable as the shifting deadlines for the date of their departure. First, Americans were to leave by 2011.
President Obama has tried to reconcile the irreconcilables – the requirements of his domestic audience and the situation on the ground in Afghanistan.