The heart of the Obama Administration’s policy to overthrow Assad in Syria has been the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which has been provided U.S. taxpayer-financed weapons training, small arms, and, most recently, TOW anti-tank missiles.
This has been done under the pretense that the State Department has carefully selected the FSA as “vetted moderates,” ensuring that those weapons wouldn’t end up in the hands of Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
Many, including myself, have scoffed at this policy since the State Department has a poor track record in recent decades of identifying “vetted moderates,” expressing concerns that there was never any guarantee those weapons wouldn’t end up in the hands of terror groups.
But reports emerging from Syria confirm those fears stating that FSA brigades in eastern Syria have surrendered their arms and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State announced recently by ISIS:
Sources and eyewitnesses in the border town of al-Bukamal east Syria informed Zaman Alwasl that many factions affiliated with FSA have pledged allegiance with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) amid a huge public attendance, where their weapons have been handed over to “ISIS”.
The source said brigades of Ahl Al Athar, Ibin al-Qa’im, and Aisha have pledged allegiance to the State after clashes that ended quickly for the benefit of ISIS, while the leader of these brigades and factions have fled to the countryside of al-Bukamal into neighboring towns in Deir Ezzor province.
In fairness, the FSA as “vetted moderates” policy has been a laughable bipartisan folly, receiving support from John McCain and Lindsey Graham, among other Republicans.
But past incidents of US-backed FSA weapons caches falling into the hands of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra over the past year have not prompted any reconsideration of this policy. Thus, it is unlikely that this most recent dramatic setback is going to give either the Obama administration or McCain GOP foreign policy orbit a moment of pause.