Syrian rebels are now trained and armed by the U.S., in order to fight against the Islamic state (ISIL / ISIS) forces

Syrian rebels are now trained and armed by the U.S., in order to increase their chances to successfully fight against the Islamic state (ISIL / ISIS) forces

According to official U.S. military sources quoted by Reuters, “Syrian rebels trained by the United States gave some of their equipment to the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front in exchange for safe passage”. The same open source is reporting that “the rebels surrendered six pick-up trucks and some ammunition, or about one-quarter of their issued equipment, to a suspected Nusra intermediary on Sept. 21-22”. According to military sources in the U.S., “a top U.S. general told Congress last week that only a handful of the rebels are still fighting in Syria, though U.S. military officials said this week that dozens more have since joined them”[1].

CNN is also reporting that the “U.S. Central Command said the Syrian rebels, known as the New Syrian Forces [NSF] and who are trained by the U.S., surrendered the equipment to an Al-Nusra Front group in return for Al-Nusra granting ‘safe passage’”, and that Col. Patrick Ryder, a U.S. Central Command spokesperson, declared: “if accurate, the report of NSF members providing equipment to Al-Nusra Front is very concerning and a violation of Syria train and equip program guidelines”[2]

Significant resources, limited results

On August 18, 2015, CNN published a media report – and broadcasted a video – about the U.S.-sponsored program aimed at boosting the Syrian anti-ISIS forces. 41 million USD had had been spent in order to train and arm these Syrian rebels, but their total number was, at that moment, astonishingly low: only 54 fighters, which mean only two platoons. Some of the rebels declared that the training program is “too slow” and that several thousand volunteers might join the new forces, described by CNN as being “a moderate and well-disciplined force [trained and armed in order] to counter the Islamic radicals on the ground”[3].

Without really significant – and really effective – local allies, the U.S. efforts to stabilize Syria without a direct and massive U.S. involvement (and, above all, without the intervention of U.S. combat military units) can not reach, we think, any really adequate results. In the meantime, Iranian and Russian military help openly offered to the Assad regime is already very large.

[1] “U.S.-trained Syrian rebels gave equipment to Nusra: U.S. military”, Reuters, September 26, 2015, text accessed at the Internet address http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/26/us-mideast-crisis-usa-equipment-idUSKCN0RP2HO20150926

[2]  Theodore SCHLEIFER, “Coalition-trained forces in Syria surrendered equipment to jihadist group”, CNN, September 26, 2015, at the Internet address http://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/25/politics/al-qaeda-syrian-rebels-ammunition-trucks/index.html

[3] Nick Paton WALSH , “Syrian rebels: This is what almost $1m of U.S. training looks like”, CNN, August 18, 2015, at the Internet address http://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/18/middleeast/new-syria-force-fighter-abu-iskander/

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