Homeland Security

Before Leaving White House Obama Bombs CIA-Vetted Syrian Rebels Embedded with Al-Qaeda

If one event can symbolize the incoherence of the Obama administration’s support for the so-called “vetted moderate” rebels in Syria, it would be one of Obama’s last acts in his last full day in office.

On Friday the Pentagon reported that they had struck a terror training camp near Idlib, killing more than one hundred Al-Qaeda terrorists.

The wrinkle is that several members of a group that had previously been backed by the CIA and received TOW missiles as part of an Obama administration program—and were at the camp and embedded with Al-Qaeda—were also killed.

The New York Times reported:

The B-52 strike on Thursday, the Pentagon said, was directed at the Shaykh Sulayman Training Camp in Idlib. Pentagon officials said that it had been in operation for several years but had only recently become a base for “core Al Qaeda” extremists, who have largely come from outside Syria to fight and plot attacks. All told, 14 bombs and missiles were used in that attack.

“The removal of this training camp disrupts training operations and discourages hard-line Islamist and Syrian opposition groups from joining or cooperating with Al Qaeda on the battlefield,” Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

The airstrike was condemned by the Syrian opposition group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, which complained that the camp for new recruits was one of theirs and that the practical effect would be to eliminate fighters who are confronting Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian leader. Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front, claims to have broken with Al Qaeda, but American officials say they are still a Qaeda affiliate.

But it quickly emerged that not only was this an al-Qaeda terror training camp, but one operated with a rebel group previously supported and “vetted” by the CIA, Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki:

And it was quickly noted that Zenki had previously been supported by the Obama administration and many Western think tank “experts”:

As I reported here at PJ Media just two months ago, Zenki was using CIA-provided TOW missiles as recently as late November, even posting video firing the missiles to their Twitter account:

Even then, Zenki was openly allied with Al-Qaeda:

According to a report in September by Sam Heller for the Century Foundation, State Department officials were in continued communications with Zenki leadership:

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.

The relationship between the CIA and Zenki became problematic when video emerged of Zenki fighters beheading a child soldier back in July:

Following the bombing of the joint Al-Qaeda/Zenki terror camp on Thursday, Western analysts that have been enthusiastic in supporting the Syrian rebel movement were quick to distance the CIA from Zenki:

But just a few months ago, those same analysts described Zenki as “US-vetted” and indicated that Zenki was back in the good graces of the Obama administration and being rehabilitated:

It’s no surprise, then, that those analysts have been called out on the inconsistencies, including during an Atlantic Council panel earlier this month:

Now that the Obama administration is at an end, it is expected that the new Trump administration will be ending or severely curtailing U.S. support for Syrian rebel groups.

As I’ve reported here at PJ Media since July 2014 in dozens of articles, Obama leaves a long trail of constant failure — sometimes backed by GOP congressional leadership — that should serve as a warning against any such future adventures:

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