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US Admits: Our Trained Syria Militants Gave Ammo, Equipment to Al-Qaeda Group

Local Editor

The Pentagon on Friday admitted that a group of US-trained Syrian militants had handed over ammunition and equipment to al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the country, the al-Nusra Front, purportedly in exchange for safe passage.

The startling acknowledgement contrasted with earlier Pentagon denials of reports that some militants had either defected or handed over gear.

“Unfortunately, we learned late today that the NSF [New Syrian Forces] unit now says it did in fact provide six pickup trucks and a portion of their ammunition to a suspected al-Nusra Front [group],” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said.

Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for Central Command [CENTCOM] admitted that the militants had handed over the gear in exchange for safe passage in the Al-Nusra operating area. “If accurate, the report of NSF members providing equipment to al-Nusra Front is very concerning and a violation of Syria train-and-equip program guidelines,” Ryder said.

Ryder added that the pickup vehicles and ammunition represented about 25 percent of the equipment issued to the group by the US-led coalition. “We are using all means at our disposal to look into what exactly happened and determine the appropriate response,” Ryder said.

Meanwhile, a military official revealed that according to the armed groups, there had not been any defections, but he stressed: “We only know what they have told us. “The development is another embarrassing setback for the US effort to “train and equip” so-called moderate Syrian rebels.

The $500-million program originally aimed to ready around 5,400 vetted fighters a year for three years but problems finding suitable candidates have seen only a fraction getting trained. The first graduates, who made up a group of 54 militants, were attacked by al-Nusra in July and the Pentagon isn’t sure what happened to them all. At least one was killed.

The second group, consisting of about 70 militants, were sent back to Syria last weekend and reports began circulating on Twitter soon after that they had either defected or handed over equipment.

Source: al-Ahed news

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