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Excerpts from Russia Today, 8/8/2015

After US-trained Syrian fighters were apparently killed, captured or went missing in their very first battle with an Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, questions have been raised as to whether the Pentagon’s costly engagement with the Syrian opposition, allegedly to fight ISIS, was worth it.

The first batch of ‘Division 30’ trainees, are also known as the New Syrian Force (NSF). NSF consists of some 54 fighters, and has reportedly ceased to exist as a battle unit, with at least half of its personnel killed, captured or missing, CBS reported.

The devastation was caused by Al Nusra Front, an Islamic group loyal to Al Qaeda, while the NSF was created with a different task in mind, to counter Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) fighters, who have not yet been caught in the NSF line of fire.

The first firefight reportedly ended with the NSF calling for the US air support, which they received, as the American warplanes hammered some 30 Al Nusra militants to dust.

But the extremists returned shortly afterwards to take revenge on coreligionists, killing some of the NSF trainees and capturing several American-trained Syrian rebels, their commander included. The remaining people fled the area, some reportedly to Turkey, where they were trained. Others left for territory secured by the Kurdish militia, Peshmerga.

The Pentagon has already spent $42 million setting up the Syrian rebels training program. In total, Washington is ready to spend a total of $500 million training and equipping 12,000 Syrian fighters, CBS reports, citing an unnamed US military official, who called the Pentagon’s first attempt to inject trained fighters into the Syrian conflict as an “abject failure.”

The first experience of using Syrian rebels against hardened Islamic extremists suggests that using American-trained fighters in small groups is of no use, even with the help of the US Air Force ready to provide support. The NSF units are not only unable to attain their objectives, but rather are not motivated enough to stand the fight.


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