US military equipment and weaponry sent to arm Syrian rebels fighting against Bashar al-Assad were simply handed over to al Qaeda militants, says a man who brokered the deal with the Obama administration.
According to Fox News, the man behind the arms shipment now claims he “communicated” with the terror network and “simply handed” US trucks and armaments over to the global Jihadi organization.
“U.S. military equipment and ammunition, sent to Syria as part of a failed Obama administration plan to find and arm moderate forces to defeat ISIS, were instead simply handed over to an Al Qaeda group,” writes Fox News.
“I communicated with Al Qaeda’s branch, Al Nusra, to protect and safely escort me and my soldiers for two hours from North Aleppo to West Aleppo,” said the man behind the deal. “In exchange, I gave them five pickup trucks and ammunition.”
The military equipment was part of a 2015 policy that allocated roughly $500 million to help “train and equip” Syrian fighters operating inside the civil war-torn country.
Those trucks and ammo were issued to him by the United States in 2015, part of a $500 million Department of Defense effort to “train and equip” a new “ideologically moderate” force to battle ISIS. The program, one of at least two designed to funnel arms to so-called moderate Syrian rebels, proved to be a spectacular failure for the Obama administration.
Zayd, who said he defected from the Syrian Army to the opposition in 2012, described a program that was rife with inconsistencies and incompetencies.
He claimed the main prerequisite for inclusion in the program was proof of association with a group that had fought ISIS, the Islamic State. That was followed by a few basic questions, like, “With which faction did you fight?” and “What do you think about ISIS?”
After undergoing training in Turkey, the first batch of 54 trained fighters crossed back to Syria in July 2015 – only to be almost instantly ambushed by Al Nusra militants. Several of the men were kidnapped, and their U.S.-issued weapons were stolen.
Zayd said he was part of a second group to be sent into Syria — this time without proper firepower.
The U.S. trainers “wanted us to go into Syria without weapons because of the ambush, and said we could get the weapons inside instead. This was crazy,” Zayd recalled. “We refused.”
The weapons issue was worked out, and the rebels eventually started their journey back to Syria on Sept. 19. But Turkish border guards found something else in their bags: Syrian regime flags, rather than the flags of the opposition group the fighters were being sent to support.
Zayd said fighters charged back to their base in Turkey, demanding answers. U.S trainers took responsibility for the “flag mistake,” Zayd said, and the following day the rebels continued back to Syria.
h/t Fox News