Report: U.S.-Trained, 'Vetted Moderate' Syrian Rebel Leader Defects to Al-Qaeda, Turns Weapons Over to Terror Group
Reports since yesterday indicate that a U.S.-trained Syrian rebel leader has deceived his American handlers and has defected to Jabhat al-Nusra -- the official al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.
This report comes just days after a senior U.S. military commander told Congress that only 4 to 5 U.S.-trained Syrian fighters are effectively engaged against ISIS as a result of a $500 million program pushed through by GOP congressional leadership a year ago. Since July 2014, I have repeatedly covered the frequent defections of "vetted moderate" Syrian rebel groups to al-Qaeda and ISIS here at PJ Media.
Late yesterday, the reports that Atareb rebel commander Anas Obaid had defected to Jabhat al-Nusra and turned over his weapons began to emerge:
But now, the D.C. cheerleaders for arming and training the "vetted moderates" in Syria -- including those who now admit they knew that such groups were working with designated terror groups all along -- are bemoaning the damage this development does to their efforts:
Who is going to take responsibility for the disaster that the $500 million program has predictably become? The White House made clear last week that Obama will not be taking responsibility for the program -- which he repeatedly advocated for:
By any measure, President Obama’s effort to train a Syrian opposition army to fight the Islamic State on the ground has been an abysmal failure. The military acknowledged this week that just four or five American-trained fighters are actually fighting.
But the White House says it is not to blame. The finger, it says, should be pointed not at Mr. Obama but at those who pressed him to attempt training Syrian rebels in the first place -- a group that, in addition to congressional Republicans, happened to include former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Another question raised by this catastrophic failure: what actions will be taken by Congress to get to the bottom of who exactly the State Department contracted with to "vet" these rebel groups?