Al-Qaeda Still Using CIA-Provided Missiles in Syria

Video posted online Monday shows the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), using U.S.-supplied TOW missiles in its ongoing campaign against Assad regime forces in the northern province of Idlib. The video was published by Ebaa News, with claims that the target was a group of Syrian soldiers:

The incident took place in Abu Duhur, and the video claims that eight soldiers were killed. The missile appears to be a BGM-71D/E TOW of the variety that the CIA had provided to "vetted" Syrian groups prior to July 2017.

The spillage of weapons provided by the CIA and the Pentagon to so-called "moderate" rebel forces in Syria, only to fall into the hands of terrorist groups like HTS and ISIS, was perhaps the most predictable outcome of the civil war. One of the first actions taken by the Trump administration two years ago was to halt the CIA weapons program, which prompted many of the U.S.-backed groups to flock to al-Qaeda. The CIA program supporting the Syrian "rebels" was shut down entirely in July 2017. When President Trump shut down the program, both the Washington Post and the New York Times claimed that the move would aid Russia:

Now, it seems clear that the ultimate beneficiaries of the CIA weapons program lamented by the American media were al-Qaeda and ISIS.

As I have reported extensively here at PJ Media since 2014, weapons provided by the U.S. to Syrian groups have repeatedly fallen into the hands of terrorist groups operating in the area.

Last August, I reported that the USAID inspector general had reported to Congress that food intended for starving civilians in northern Syria had been diverted by a USAID contractor -- Catholic Relief Services -- to HTS fighters. The State Department, the sponsor of USAID, designated HTS a terror organization in May 2018:

In January 2017, al-Nusrah Front launched the creation of HTS as a vehicle to advance its position in the Syrian uprising and to further its own goals as an al-Qa’ida affiliate. Since January 2017, the group has continued to operate through HTS in pursuit of these objectives.

The spillage of U.S. weapons was not limited to Syria.

A December 2017 report by Conflict Armament Research (CAR) found, after an extensive three-year research program of weapons recovered in Syria and Iraq, that weapons supplied by the U.S. regularly ended up in the hands of ISIS. One instance documented by CAR was a Bulgarian anti-tank missile tube discovered by Iraqi police that had been used in Ramadi by ISIS on February 9, 2016. A trace on the lot number markings on the missile tube revealed it had been exported by the U.S. Army less than two month earlier -- on December 12, 2015. The weapon had been provided to a "vetted" Syrian group, Jaysh al-Nasr:

One might think that weapons exported to the U.S. Army being used two months later by ISIS in Iraq would be the subject of extensive congressional investigations. But there have been no such investigations or inquiries, since (as I reported in November 2014) both GOP congressional leaders and the Obama administration were equally complicit in the disastrous support for Syrian groups. In fact, no one in Congress batted an eye when ISIS took over large swathes of Syria and Iraq, capturing 2,300 U.S.-provided Humvees from the Iraqi Army, in addition to 40 M1A1 tanks, 74,000 machine guns, and 52 M198 Howitzer mobile gun systems.

I previously reported that one of the last actions of the Obama administration, just hours before Donald Trump's inauguration, was to bomb an al-Qaeda training camp in Syria. The camp included trainers from a U.S. "vetted moderate" Syrian group that had received TOW missiles through the CIA program, and continued to use them just weeks before they were targeted by President Obama.

As a whole, the Washington, D.C. think-tank community and the establishment media got practically everything wrong in Syria, with the seemingly singular exceptions of Bill Roggio and Tom Joscelyn of the Long War Journal. Those of us who called out against the false claims -- peddled by proven fraudsters like John McCain adviser Liz O'Bagy -- that most of the "rebels" in Syria were democracy-loving moderates were drowned out and ignored. The continued use of U.S.-supplied weapons by terrorist groups in Syria is a direct legacy of the policies of the D.C. SmartSet™ and the chickenhawk media.

Perhaps it's long overdue to find new foreign policy thinking before these same actors push us into the next misadventure?

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Below are the more than three dozen reports at PJ Media by Patrick Poole since July 2014 documenting the issues with Syrian "rebel" groups:

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, 2015: 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, 2017: Before Leaving White House Obama Bombs CIA-Vetted Rebels Embedded with Al-Qaeda

Jan. 28, 2017: 'Vetted Moderate' Syrian Rebel Group Officially Partners with Al-Qaeda

Feb. 23, 2017: Syrian 'Moderate' Rebels Flocking to Al-Qaeda After CIA Halts Weapons Pipeline

Jul. 24, 2017: Trump Shuts Down CIA Support for Syrian 'Rebels' After Years of Chronic Failure

Jul. 25, 2017: Media Cartel Feigns Outrage After Trump Tweets on Cancelling CIA's Syria Program

Aug. 24, 2018: USAID Food Support Went to Syrian Al-Qaeda