Rebel militias in Syria backed by both the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency are starting to turn on each other in a most gruesome and farcical fashion, as U.S. military planners scramble to regain some semblance of control.
The rebel groups are fighting near the Turkish border in Aleppo, Syria, and while the fighting has already gone on for several months, it’s now taking a turn for the worse in this now five-year-old civil war, The Los Angeles Times reports.
The Pentagon is mostly funneling resources to Kurdish troops in northern Syria, while the CIA is providing TOW missiles to rebel groups from its base of operations out of Turkey. Kurdish troops are mainly focused on taking out the Islamic State, but the CIA is covertly keeping the pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Both groups are now skirmishing as they close in on Aleppo.
Playing chess in Syria isn’t going according to Washington’s plans. After a wildly successful air campaign against rebel groups, the Russians have largely pulled their forces out of the region, leaving only key air support assets to support Damascus. Assad won’t be able to take back every inch of the country as he originally promised, but with the Russian intervention, it now appears that his rule is solidifying and rebel groups are floundering and degenerating into conflict with one another over increasingly small stakes.
In other words, the Russians have trounced U.S.-backed groups and crushed Washington’s initial objective of removing Assad from power.
Getting what’s left of these groups to work together is a challenging task, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff told The Los Angeles Times.“This is a complicated, multisided war where our options are severely limited,” an anonymous U.S. official told The Los Angeles Times. “We know we need a partner on the ground. We can’t defeat ISIL without that part of the equation, so we keep trying to forge those relationships.”
The Pentagon is preparing to restart a program to train Syrian rebels, which was initially suspended due to abysmal results: $500 million allocated and almost nothing worth writing home about.
Back in February, U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, urged rebel groups to quit fighting each other. It appears his words have gone unheeded. The lack of U.S. military presence in the region is making it almost impossible to direct efforts.
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