The Islamic State utterly destroyed U.S.-backed Syrian rebels in a poorly planned assault on a strategic town near the Syria-Iraq border. The group was the last remaining group to receive funds under the original Pentagon train and equip program.
ISIS’s official news agency, Amaq News, posted multiple photos and videos showing mutilated bodies, a live beheading, and captured U.S. supplied weaponry. The group admitted it had lost “several men” and tried to spin their retreat as a “successful departure.”
The U.S. strategy in Syria relies on local backed forces to regain strategic terrain from ISIS with U.S. supplied weaponary. The U.S. role is to support these local backed forces with airstrikes during ground offensives. The complete failure of the New Syrian Army calls into question the efficacy of U.S. strategy. The failure of the indigenous Syrian force also increases U.S. military reliance on the Kurdish minority forces within Syria. Increased reliance on Kurds exacerbates tensions with U.S. ally Turkey and could stroke sectarian tensions within Syria.
The New Syrian Army was a product of the original Pentagon train and equip program which is an unmitigated disaster. The program cost U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars and only yielded less than 200 fighters. The second version of the Pentagon’s effort to train and equip Syrian rebels has trained less than 100 so far, despite millions of dollars allocated to the program.
In September 2015 the first graduates of the U.S. train and equip program surrendered to Al Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, Jabat Al Nusra. The Syrian rebels also turned over millions of dollars in U.S. provided weaponry, significantly bolstering Al Qaida’s firepower. Worsening the situation for the U.S. 12 Pentagon provided four wheel vehicles mounted with machine guns were also turned over to the terrorist group.
The New York Times revealed this week CIA weapons intended for Syrian rebels were being sold on the black market by corrupt Jordanian intelligence officials. Some of these weapons were used by a Jordanian terrorist to kill american citizens in November 2015.
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