The 500 million dollar program to train and arm Syrian rebels for the fight against ISIS has completely fallen apart.
Fighters with the vaunted Division 30 surrendered to the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, a raft of sources claimed on Monday night.
A Twitter post by a man calling himself Abu Fahd al-Tunisi, a member of al-Qaeda’s local affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, read:
“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.
“They handed over a very large amount of ammunition and medium weaponry and a number of pick-ups.”
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) September 22, 2015
Abu Khattab al-Maqdisi, another Jabhat al-Nusra member, explained that Division 30’s commander, Anas Ibrahim Obaid (above), explained to Jabhat al-Nusra leaders that he had tricked the Americans because he needed weapons.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that seventy-five Division 30 fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey with “12 four-wheel vehicles equipped with machine guns and ammunition”.
The reports were confirmed by U.S. Central Command.
This is yet another setback for the half billion dollar debacle of a program. Last month, after the first group of fighters re-entered, the militia was attacked and routed by Jabhat al-Nusra, which stormed its headquarters and kidnapped a number of its members.
Despite initial goals of raising a 5,400 strong fighting force, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee were shocked to hear only a handful of Division 30 graduates are still fighting inside Syria. “We’re talking four or five,” said General Lloyd Austin, head of Central Command.
Today the public learned only 4 to 5 U.S.-trained Syrian fighters remain on the battlefield vs. ISIS. http://t.co/iHKtimoBnY
— Senator Thom Tillis (@SenThomTillis) September 16, 2015