Fighting ISIS: U.S. counting on moderate rebel force

Moderate rebel forces crucial to defeating IS... 02:23

ANTAKYA, Turkey -- The U.S. is counting on members of Harakat Hazm, a moderate rebel force of roughly 4,000 fighters, to battle ISIS.

They have received sophisticated anti-tank missiles from the U.S. and will head to Saudi Arabia soon for training.

But despite their partnership, the group's leader, Hamza al-Shamali, told CBS News he had no warning of last week's air strikes.

"We saw it on the TV like everybody else," said al-Shamali. "We were shocked, we're supposed to be allies. We should have been informed before the event."

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Harakat Hazm

Critics of groups like Hazm complain that they are disorganized, and question their ability to fight both ISIS and the Assad regime - despite U.S. support.

When asked how much time they would need to get to a place where they would be ready to take on this fight, al-Shamali said, "I think we need several months. I think we're more ready and more trained than before so maybe that period can be accelerated."

President Obama has said that U.S. intelligence underestimated the ISIS militants, and al-Shamali said he had warned the Americans many times that the group was growing stronger.

CBS News asked al-Shamali if he blamed the U.S. for ISIS' success.

"In a way, yes," al-Shamali said. "Maybe if they paid more attention and gave more support to the moderate groups we would be in this position, but at least now we are on a different track."

The question now is whether groups like Hazm, that the U.S. is backing, can actually start gaining more ground on the battlefield.

Even with U.S. weapons and training they are outnumbered and out-gunned by ISIS.

  • Clarissa Ward
    Clarissa Ward

    Foreign Correspondent, CBS News