US-Trained Syrian Rebels Refuse to Fight

US-Trained Syrian Rebels Refusing to Fight
A fighter from the Free Syrian Army"s Al Rahman legion carries a weapon as he walks towards his position in Syria July 27, 2015. | Photo: Reuters
Published 7 August 2015
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The U.S.-trained rebels were attacked in Syria by Nusra group. Five fighters were kidnapped, one killed and many are currently unaccounted for.
U.S.-trained Syrian rebels are refusing to fight, accusing Washington of misrepresenting the mission of their unit, according to sources from within the group.

The Division 30 rebel group, made up of only of 60 Syrian fighters, say that they signed on to fight against the Islamic State group and not against Nusra rebel group, which allegedly has ties to al-Qaida.

The statement was made by an unnamed source who spoke to the British newspaper The Guardian. The source from Division 30 also said that his group opposed the U.S.-led airstrikes against the Nusra Front.

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The recent opposition from the group further complicates the U.S. plan to counter the Islamic State group rapid expansion in Syria and Iraq.

Washington announced earlier this year that it had a program in Turkey and Jordan set up for training 5,400 Syrian fighter. However, so far the training program has only produced the 60 fighters.

Meanwhile, the training program and its first graduated group appear to face more challenges. Last week, the first batch of the trained rebels was attacked by the Nusra front. The attack resulted in the kidnapping of five the U.S. trained rebels and the death of one. Also, many of the other 54 left are not accounted for according to report by the Wall Street Journal.

Defense officials at the Pentagon attributed the slow progress in the training program and the early failures to the strict vetting process that ensures that the chosen fighters would not join extremist groups once in Syria.

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"Certainly this past week has highlighted some of the challenges associated with fielding New Syrian forces, but it's important to keep in mind that success does not hinge on one fight or one event and we're still in the early phases of implementing this program," said Colonel Pat Ryder, U.S. Central Command spokesman.

The Nusra front said in a statement that they had attacked the headquarters of the Division 30 group in Aleppo because the group was there to spread “American” propaganda and aims at setting up a pro-U.S. government.

The Division 30 group was inserted in Syria in mid July and two more groups are being trained in order to be sent to Syria. The U.S. training program costs $500 million and the Pentagon has spent $42 million just to get it going and train the first 60 fighter out of the 5,400 target.

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