A group of Pentagon-trained “moderate rebels” known as Division 30 handed their weapons over to Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jahbat al-Nusra this week immediately after entering the country, reports say.
Division 30 fighters, who recently graduated from a US-led training program in Turkey, are believed to have given both weapons and vehicles to the terrorist group in exchange for safe passage into Syria.
“A strong slap for America… the new group from Division 30 that entered yesterday hands over all of its weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra after being granted safe passage,” a tweet from al-Nusra member Abu Fahd al-Tunisi states. “They handed over a very large amount of ammunition and medium weaponry and a number of pick-ups.”
According to The Telegraph, Abu Khattab al-Maqdisi, another purported member of al-Nusra, also indicated that the commander of Division 30 had told al-Nusra leaders he had tricked his Western-backers in order to receive a large cache of weapons.
“He promised to issue a statement… repudiating Division 30, the coalition, and those who trained him,” al-Maqdisi said. “And he also gave a large amount of weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra.”
After entering Syria this year, Division 30 has faced repeated setbacks including the resignation of Lieutenant Colonel Mohammad al-Dhaher, the group’s chief of staff.
Al-Dhaher accused the US of failing to properly equip the group with adequate supplies and fighters despite the program’s $500 million budget thus far.
US Central Command admitted last week during a Senate hearing that the US training program has only produced “4 or 5” successful soldiers in the fight against ISIS.
Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, countless US-supported “moderate rebel” groups have been found to be supplying both al-Qaeda and ISIS with weapons and supplies.
“We are collaborating with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front by attacking the Syrian Army’s gatherings in … Qalamoun,” a Free Syrian Army commander admitted last year. “Let’s face it: The Nusra Front is the biggest power present right now in Qalamoun and we as FSA would collaborate on any mission they launch as long as it coincides with our values.”
The comfortable and seemingly tolerated relationship between US-backed groups and admitted radicals is unsurprising given recently uncovered Pentagon documents that prove the US deliberately allowed al-Qaeda and other radical groups to flourish in Syria in an attempt to bring down the Assad government.
Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), recently admitted during an interview with Al Jazeera that the choice to support terrorist groups was a “willful decision” by the Obama administration.
“I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision,” Flynn said.
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