Col. Chris Garver, a Pentagon spokesman, defended the decision to The Washington Post, saying, “You have a finite number of resources and you try to get the biggest bang for buck that you can out of the resources you have.” Garver further justified the diversion, saying the ISIS convoy in Fallujah the warplanes struck, instead of supporting the New Syrian Army, was a “strategic target.” Lacking U.S. aerial assistance, the New Syrian Army was beaten back all the way to the Jordanian border.
The New Syrian Army is a Pentagon-trained rebel group composed primarily of Syrian Arabs. The group was successfully assaulting the ISIS town of Bukamal with aerial assistance from U.S. warplanes, when the jets were diverted to Fallujah. The diversion of U.S. aerial assistance to Pentagon-funded rebels calls into question the Obama administration’s entire anti-ISIS strategy.
The Obama administration’s ground strategy in Syria is to empower local Syrian rebel groups fighting Islamic State by providing air support, weapons and funding. The administration believes support of Syrian Arab rebels is a long-term solution for a lasting defeat of ISIS on the ground. The reasoning is that non-Arab groups, like the Kurds, can’t take Sunni held towns for fear it would spark sectarian tensions. One of the reasons the New Syrian Army’s offensive failed is because it believed the residents of the town would rise up to assist them, a scenario that did not bear out.
In September, 2015, the first graduates of the U.S. train and equip program surrendered to al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat 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 in mid June, 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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