Western-backed “moderate” rebels fighting jihadists in Syria are refusing to do battle, giving up and even defecting for lack of weapons and other promised support, leaders have told The Telegraph.

Despite President Barack Obama’s strategy, outlined last month, to arm and fund rebels to fight first Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and then the Assad regime, arms supplies remained at a trickle, they said.

Even when they received weapons heavier than rifles, they came encumbered with bureaucracy.

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