Military equipment and ammunition, that US sent to Syria to arm moderate rebels fighting against ISIS, were handed to Al Qaeda’s branch Al Nusra and ISIS terrorist groups, according to Fox News.
On May 16, in an interview with Fox News, Major Anas Ibrahim Obaid also known as Abu Zayd revealed the deals that he had brokered during his stay in moderate forces in Syria.
“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,” Zayd said. “In exchange, I gave them five pickup trucks and ammunition.”
According to him, the trucks and ammunition were issued by the US in 2015, in the framework of a $500 million effort to “train and equip” a new “ideologically moderate” force to defeat ISIS.
Zayd said that he had defected from the Syrian Army to the opposition in 2012 and joined the operation, which as it turned out afterwards had many “inconsistencies and incompetencies”.
Quoting Zayd Fox news reported that in July 2015, after training in Turkey, the first batch of 54 fighters crossed back to Syria to be ambushed by Al Nusra militants. Some fighters were kidnapped and their US weapons were stolen.
Zayd was a member of a second group to be sent into Syria, but without any ammunition this time.
“They wanted us to go into Syria without weapons because of the ambush, and said we could get the weapons inside instead,” Fox News quoted Zayd. “We refused.”
The interviewee pointed out that after the weapons issue was solved, they started their way back to Syria on September 19. However, instead of flags of the opposition group, that fighters were being sent to support, Turkish border guards found Syrian government flags.
Fighters returned to Turkey, demanding US trainers to take responsibility for the “flag mistake.”
The report revealed, that another important problem was a morale one as fighters were not paid well: $250 per month. Thus, Zaid’s group of 72 diminished to 25.
Zayd intended to go back home, but it required to cross Al Nusra territory. Then he called Al Qaeda-affiliated leaders and arranged to hand over the five US-issued trucks and ammunition in exchange for free passage and an armed escort to home. Zayd told that Pentagon had halted the program a month later.
“I got many messages the Americans do not want to deal with me anymore. But they can’t get their weapons back,” he said.
According to Fox News, Zayd showed off via Skype US-issued M-16 and M-24 sniper rifles, some ammo, mortar rounds and machine guns.
In 2012, the CIA started an Obama administration program Timber Sycamore aiming at arming rebels. Syrian opposition affirms that this program was also compromised as arms were handed to ISIS or Al Nusra.
The program firstly deployed light weapons, but then Washington strengthened its commitment by providing American “tune-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided” antitank missiles, known as BGM-71 TOWs.
The FSA group Hazem Movement backed by the US in 2014 used these TOWs. According to Fox News, a media activist for the FSA’s Hazem Movement Asem Zidan said that “TOW missiles helped us to prevent the regime pushing forward for some time … but it wasn’t enough”.
Zidan pointed out that only 10 TOWs were issued. Matters became worse as Al Nusra started to attack and “steal their weapons”.
Then Fox News reported about another fighter, Suheil Alhamoud, who had been also concerned over “insufficient efforts to help”.
In November 2014, Alhamoud received a set of defective TOWs that had allegedly come from Saudi stockpiles. The TOWs were expected to fly more than two miles, but some missiles did no more than 150 feet. Alhamoud said that Al Nusra stole a number of TOWs, and then some of them appeared at the black market, fetching up to $30,000 for piece.
Fox News says that Ibrahim al-Jabawi defected from his post as vice president of Police in Homs in 2012 and became the Amman-based spokesperson for the Southern Front, stated that “some of the TOW rockets ended up with Al Nusra”.
In July 2017, US President Donald Trump ended this Syrian rebel supply program, due to its ineffectiveness as Fox News underlined. It is estimated that more than $1 billion was spent on this “spectacular failure”.
Fox News pointed out that the CIA refused to comment on this story as this program proved to be an epic failure for the US administration.