'Vetted Moderate' Syrian Rebel Group Officially Partners with Al-Qaeda

A Syrian rebel group that received TOW missiles as part of a CIA program officially partnered with a Syrian al-Qaeda branch today, announcing the new Tahrir al-Sham alliance.

As I reported in late November here at PJ Media, Nour al-Din al-Zenki was posting videos of their fighters firing CIA-provided TOW missiles.

And in the waning hours of his presidency, Obama bombed an al-Qaeda training camp that was jointly operated with Zenki, killing several of their fighters.

Now, just days later, Zenki is part of Tahrir al-Sham with Jabhat Fath al-Sham.

This has been in the works for at least several days as rebel groups have been vying for power, fracturing the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA):

As others have noted, now al-Qaeda-allied Zenki is also supported by NATO ally Turkey:

The al-Qaeda-allied Zenki rebels, who were deemed "vetted moderates" by the CIA, were not only using CIA-provided TOW missiles recently, but according to one report were in active communication with top State Department officials back in September:

U.S. diplomats had been in regular communication with these factions before, during and after the failed ceasefire. According to rebel sources, the core opposition factions with whom U.S. Special Envoy Michael Ratney has remained in contact include the Damascus-centered Army of Islam; opposition faction and Islamist movement Ahrar al-Sham; major Aleppo-area factions Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zinki and the Levant Front; and several others. The short list includes factions long considered outside the bounds of U.S. support or, in the case of Nour al-Din al-Zinki, that have been cut off from U.S. backing. All of them, however, would need to be on board for a successful ceasefire.

That the Obama State Department was still in communication with Zenki so recently is problematic not just because of their growing cooperation with Jabhat Fath al-Sham. Back in July, news that Zenki beheaded a child solider on video became public.

Western rebel apologists like Middle East Institute's Charles Lister were quick to distance Zenki from the CIA after Obama's recent bombing of their joint terror training camp just over a week ago:

But back in June he was saying that while Zenki's reputation had become problematic, they had begun receiving TOW missiles again from the CIA and were deemed "vetted":

So when Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) says that the U.S. as a matter of policy has been working with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar to arm "rebel" groups openly allied with ISIS and al-Qaeda, she's absolutely correct -- notwithstanding the howls of protest by the "experts":

For nearly three years I've been reporting here at PJ Media about the problems of the so-called Syrian "vetted moderate" "rebel" fighters, particularly their open associations with al-Qaeda and ISIS, in some cases defecting to those terrorist groups. This doesn't seem likely to end soon, unless the U.S. backing comes to an end.

July 7, 2014: U.S. ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Brigades Surrender Weapons, Pledge Allegiance to Islamic State

Sept. 3, 2014: U.S.-Backed Free Syrian Army Operating Openly with ISIS, Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra

Sept. 9, 2014: Fighter With ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Tells L.A. Times They Fight Alongside Al-Qaeda

Sept. 10, 2014: ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Commander Admits Alliance with ISIS, Confirms PJ Media Reporting

Sept. 13, 2014: Yet Another U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group Makes Peace with ISIS

Sept. 24, 2014: U.S.-Backed Syrian Group Harakat al-Hazm Condemns U.S. Strikes on ISIS as ‘Attack on the Revolution’

Nov. 2, 2014: U.S.-Armed ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebel Groups Surrender, Defect to Al-Qaeda

Nov. 3, 2014: How Obama Walked Boehner and GOP Leadership Off the Syrian Rebel Cliff

Nov. 24, 2014: More Defections of ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Rebels to ISIS

Dec. 2, 2014: US-Backed Syrian Rebels Ally with al-Qaeda in South, Surrender CIA-Supplied Weapons in the North

Dec. 14, 2014: Report: Al-Qaeda Using CIA-Supplied TOW Anti-Tank Missiles in Northern Syria

Dec. 28, 2014: NY Times Admits: U.S.-Backed Free Syrian Army Under Effective al-Qaeda Control

March 3, 2015: U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group Collapses, U.S.-Supplied Weapons End Up in Al-Qaeda Hands

March 24, 2015: Video Shows Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra Using U.S.-Provided TOW Anti-Tank Missiles in Syria

April 16, 2015: U.S. Analyst Admits ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Have Been Working with Al-Qaeda All Along

May 8, 2015: CIA-Backed, "Vetted Moderate" Rebels Now Working Openly With Al-Qaeda

June 27, 2015: ISIS Using U.S. TOW Antitank Missiles In Latest Syrian Offensive

July 9, 2015: Report: 'Vetted Moderate' Free Syrian Army Fighting Alongside Al-Qaeda, Islamic State Against Assad Regime

July 23, 2015: U.S.-Funded Free Syrian Army Unit Shows Off Its Kidnapping Skills in New Training Video

July 27, 2015: #BringBackOurRebels: Obama's 50-Man 'Vetted Moderate' Syrian Rebel Army Vanishes After Training in Turkey

July 29, 2015: #BringBackOurRebels Part 2: Al-Qaeda Arrests 18 U.S.-Trained Rebels On Their First Day in Syria

July 30, 2015: #BringBackOurRebels: Despite Pentagon Denial, Reports Confirm That U.S.-Trained Syrian Rebels Were Kidnapped By Al-Qaeda Almost Immediately

July 31, 2015: Report: Al-Qaeda Kills Five Members of Obama's 54-Man Syrian Rebel Army

July 31, 2015: Chechen Terrorists In Syria Have Obtained U.S.-Provided TOW Anti-Tank Missiles

Sept. 22, 2015: Report: U.S.-Trained, 'Vetted Moderate' Syrian Rebel Leader Defects to Al-Qaeda, Turns Weapons Over to Terror Group

Oct. 27, 2016: New Video Shows Al-Qaeda Using Weapons U.S. Gave to 'Vetted Moderates'

Nov. 24, 2015: U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebels Destroy Russian Helicopter with CIA-Provided TOW Anti-Tank Missile

July 20, 2016: CIA-Vetted, "Moderate" Syrian Rebels Behead Child Soldier

Sept. 3, 2016: British Journo: Syrian Kidnapper Who Shot Me Twice is Now a CIA-vetted 'Moderate'

Sept. 6, 2016: New ISIS Commander Was Trained by State Department as Recently as 2014

Sept. 16, 2016: SHOCK VIDEO: U.S.-Backed, "Moderate" Free Syrian Army Threatens to Kill U.S. Special Forces

Sept. 29, 2016: U.S.-Backed Free Syrian Army Allies With Group that State Dept Designated LAST WEEK

Oct. 20, 2016: U.S. "Vetted Moderate" Syrian Rebels Defect to Al-Qaeda Affiliate

Nov. 22, 2016: Video Shows Syrian "Rebel" Group That Beheaded Child Still Using CIA-Provided TOW Missiles

Nov. 27, 2016: SHOCKING ADMISSION: 'Secular' Syrian Rebels Don't Actually Believe in Secular Democracy

Jan. 21, 2016: Before Leaving White House Obama Bombs CIA-Vetted Rebels Embedded with Al-Qaeda