Aug 3, 2015
The al Qaeda-linked terror group al-Nusra captured a top leader of the U.S. trained Syrian rebels this week casting doubt on the Pentagon’s embattled effort to aid forces fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Making matters worse is the fact al-Nusra seized anti-tank TOW missiles from the ambush.
Despite the Pentagon spending $4 million per fighter, the US has only trained approximately 54 of the expected 5,400 rebel fighters. Of those, the intelligence community claims the rebels are poorly equipped, the US still hasn’t provided night vision goggles, and they remain undermanned to fight against a well-trained and growing ISIS army.
The attack by al-Nusra occurred at the rebel faction’s headquarters in northern Syria near Aleppo, they are known as Division 30. The terrorist group claimed in their statement that they killed five fighters and wounded another dozen. Responding directly to American involvement along the Turkish border, al-Nusra promised to cut off “the arms” of the US government in northern Syria.
This latest US gimmick to fight radical Islam is based in Jordan and Turkey and works in coordination with the CIA. However, the US-trained fighters would rather focus on removing President al-Assad, leaving the US military in a quandary as President Obama’s mission to rid the region of ISIS remains questionable.
Meanwhile, despite spending billions of dollars and killing thousands of ISIS fighters, US intelligence agencies say the terrorist group remains strong.
So is there a strategy to rid the Middle East of ISIS?
While the Pentagon is not confirming the Division 30 abduction, the New York Times and Long War Journal have both reported the influential leader has been taken hostage, along with other moderate insurgents. Nadeem Hassan, a Syrian defector, was last seen near the Syrian/Turkish border. As with any US-trained fighters, the enemy is expected to torture Hassan mercilessly – something the world witnessed when a captured Jordanian pilot was burned alive in a cage earlier this year – to intimidate any other prospective US recruits.
Al-Nusra Front released a statement acknowledging the capture, if true, would cast serious doubts as to the Obama administration strategy to quell Middle East tensions. Another point of contention remains Obama’s slow response and lack of defining an end state, which would authorize military planners to actually do their jobs. Compounding matters is the fact rebel fighters are not well compensated compared to “Better-financed groups (which) are luring recruits awaiting the next course; they make $225 a month, and with no budget,” Col. Hassan complained, “I can’t buy them lunch. The situation is bad.”
Not so, according to U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General Kevin Killea, chief of staff for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation, Inherent Resolve. Hassan’s capture “had nothing to do with the new (emphasis added) Syrian fighters who were trained and equipped. We’ve had zero indication or information that there are any captured New Syrian Forces that we’ve trained.”
It’s also important to keep in mind that al-Nusra has a record of routing US-trained groups inside Syria. This year alone the US-designated terrorist group decimated “the U.S. backed Hazzm Movement, which collapsed earlier this year after clashing with the Nusra Front in the northwest,” Reuters reported.
But will the US protect these rebel fighters? “All of the anti-[Islamic State] forces in Syria that are credible, reliable partners on the ground in the fight against [the Islamic State] will receive coalition support as is required.”
Clearly, US support was not enough. The New York Times reported, “Mr. Hassan said he had asked trainers ‘if they are going to protect us’ and got no clear reply. Two days later, the kidnapping showed how vulnerable he was.”
Meanwhile, despite spending billions of dollars and killing thousands of ISIS fighters, U.S. intelligence agencies say it remains as strong as ever. The severe underestimation of ISIS has proven they are more than capable fighters, and they have exposed their enemies’ “center of gravity.” In non-military speak that means ISIS is using asymmetrical warfare by determining a weakness and then exploiting it. When they come to town, ISIS doesn’t just say they will massacre the nonbelievers; they actually behead those who don’t subscribe to their strict version of Islam.
Background on Training Syrian Free Rebels
In June of last year the Obama administration allocated $500 million to train, supervise and equip 3,000 Syrian Free Rebels (SFR), a group of opposition fighters committed to overthrowing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. However, in the past year “mission creep,” added the task of defeating ISIS to the menu. As a result, Defense Secretary Ash Carter reports only 60 SFR fighters have been trained to fight tens of thousands of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists.
So what happened to the $500 million? The military says half has been spent. By using basic math skills, it looks like the US taxpayer has spent approximately $4 million to train and arm one SFR fighter. At this rate you’d think the rebels would be lining-up around the block to garner US state-of-the art soldier skills replete with American weapons.
After Secretary Carter told the Armed Services committee that “just 60 fighters had made it through the vetting process for the three-month-old Syria train-and-equip program — a number he conceded was much smaller than ‘we’ hoped for at this point,” Senator John McCain (R-AZ) slammed Carter concluding the Obama administration’s strategy on ISIS and Syria was “delusional.”
Among the excuses offered by Carter regarding the lack of trained rebels was namely the fact that the US military is supposed to train the soldiers to fight ISIS first and then transition to the overthrow of democratically elected President Bashar al-Assad. According to journalists on the ground, SFR doesn’t want to fight ISIS, but they would like to seize control of their country in order to remove a dictator.
“The administration is telling Syrians to forego fighting their greatest enemy, the Assad regime, which is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and meanwhile refusing to protect these fighters from the terror of Assad’s barrel bombs,” McCain said in a statement. “That is why it is no small wonder that our train and equip program in Syria is so anemic.”
Carter did tell the committee approximately 7,000 volunteers were on the screening list.
“We expect the numbers of moderate Syrian opposition who we [have] in the training program to increase, but as we have said, the screening process is crucial to the program, and we will continue to err on the side of quality over quantity or speed,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis explained.
After a verbal tongue lashing from Senators, Carter admitted more SFR fighters will be vetted and trained in the months to come.
“As training progresses,” he said, “we are learning more about the opposition groups and building important relationships, which increases our ability to attract recruits and provides valuable intelligence for counter-ISIL/[ISIS] operations.”
Nevertheless, Politico revealed that the US intelligence community is operating another rebel training program. “A separate, classified program to train Syrian rebels run by the CIA, reportedly to the tune of nearly $1 billion, has been underway for several years. Its effectiveness has also been called into question, leading some lawmakers to move to cut some of the secret funding.”
In the meantime, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) said more than four million Syrian refugees have fled the war-torn country and are forced to live in refugee camps in neighboring countries. Meanwhile the Bush/Obama regime change train staggers onward …
Obama trained insurgents launch killing spree against Iraq then turn to Syria
A senior intelligence official disclosed to this reporter that the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) includes terrorists, and based on prior reports, the jihadi group has been equipped and financed by the U.S., Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), and the Emirate of Qatar purportedly for war against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.
However, something went wrong with the President’s plan over the last few weeks as ISIS launched its sustained attack from rebel-controlled bases in Syria and government supported bases in Turkey. To confound matters even more, both KSA and Qatar warned the U.S. against any intervention against ISIS, which has allowed ISIS to move freely across the great expanses of desert on the Baghdad-Damascus Road to attack and return to Syria with the spoils of war – U.S. made Humvees and tanks. Keep reading (Here)
Iraq, ISIS and trained Islamic insurgents (Part Two)
The headlines splashed across most major publications this week centered on the growing destabilization of Iraq. After a decade of war, peace and prosperity remain elusive and the “hearts and minds” COIN policy is officially dead. For the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, peace was nothing more than an American dream.
The U.S. “war on terror” doctrine, under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, perfectly illustrates America’s schizophrenic foreign policy. Increasingly, military battlefields once confined to traditional nations now take root in tribal regions sympathetic to Islamic terror ideals without conventional borders. A perfect example is the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi, a former Iraq al-Qaeda leader who once told his capturers (US military in Iraq) “he would see them in New York City.” How al-Bagdadi was going to attack NYC remains unreported. Nevertheless, the obscure terrorist group rose to power by swiftly and decisively toppling a U.S.-trained Iraqi military.
Enter Syria. Not only has recently reelected President Bashar al-Assad had to fight a brutal civil war, but also his once-secular country is a magnet for thousands of foreign terrorists vying for a caliphate. In the midst of civil war, the Assad regime repeatedly targeted ISIS and this week successfully launched air strikes against ISIS near the Iraq/Syria border town of al-Qaim. Keep reading (Here)
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