The PJ Tatler

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

An article yesterday from a pro-regime news site claims that elements of the “vetted moderate” Free Syrian Army (FSA) are fighting alongside Jabhat al-Nusra — al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate — and the Islamic State against an Assad regime offensive near the border with Lebanon in al-Zabadani.

Al-Masdar al-Arabi reports:

Reports from the resort-city of Al-Zabadani have confirmed that the western-backed “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) is currently fighting alongside two terrorist groups, the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), as the Syrian Arab Army’s 63rd Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division and Hezbollah continue their offensive on the Syrian-Lebanese border.

For almost a year, the FSA, ISIS and Jabhat  Al-Nusra have been deeply entrenched in the vast Qalamoun and Western Mountains of Lebanon and Syria, while they attempted to maintain their strategic supply routes from the ‘Arsal District of the Beqa’a Governorate (Lebanon) amid relentless airstrikes from the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF).

However, the Syrian Armed Forces and Hezbollah began a long-awaited offensive in the Qalamoun Mountains of Syria and Lebanon in April of this year, capturing over 250 square kilometers of territory from the FSA, Jabhat Al-Nusra, and ISIS after 46 days of non-stop fighting along the Syrian-Lebanese border; this offensive paved the way for the eventual assault on Al-Zabadani.

As Henry Kissinger famously quipped, “It’s a pity they both can’t lose.”

Max Abrahms, terrorism professor at Northeastern University, points out in response to this report:

Again, this is a pro-regime source reporting this information, but this would hardly be the first time that the FSA and other U.S.-backed Syrian rebels have been caught fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS. As I noted here at PJ Media in early May, a number of Western media reports have placed the FSA and other U.S-backed rebel groups, including the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF) and Harakat al-Hazm (both now defunct), in alliance with and/or support of al-Nusra and ISIS:

May 7: Wall Street Journal reports SRF joins with Al-Qaeda to help take hilltops in Golan Heights

July 9: Al Jazeera quotes ISIS leader saying that they purchase U.S. weapons from and maintain good relations with the FSA

Aug 3: New York Times cites FSA commander saying joint FSA, Nusra Front, and ISIS forces attack a border post with Lebanon

Aug 18: Islamic State commander openly brags about defections by U.S.-trained and armed FSA fighters

Aug 28: Washington Post says Nusra Front aided by Western-backed rebels capture UN Quneitra border crossing with Israel, abducting 43 Fijian peacekeepers

Sept 7: L.A. Times notes Hazm fighting alongside Al-Qaeda in Aleppo, quoting fighters admitting the relationship

Sept 8: Daily Star (Lebanon) quotes FSA brigade commander saying his forces were working with Islamic State and Nusra Front near Syria/Lebanon border

Sept 13: The Hill reports that SRF had declared a truce with the Islamic State

Sept 24: L.A. Times notes Hazm condemnation of U.S. airstrikes targeting ISIS in northern Syria

Nov 1: Reuters says that SRF elements defected to the Nusra Front

Nov 3: International Business Times observes that U.S.-backed rebel groups pledge allegiance, surrender weapons to Nusra Front

Nov 23: The Guardian states that FSA units develop alliances with, even defect to, the Islamic State while condemning U.S. airstrikes

Nov. 28: Associated Press reports close collaboration of U.S.-backed rebels and Al-Qaeda in southern Syria

Dec 24: German journalist who embedded with Islamic State tells France 24 that ISIS is obtaining weapons from Western governments purchased from FSA

Dec 28: New York Times admits that FSA is under effective control of Nusra Front

Feb 18: McClatchy reports that former Obama frontman for Syria, Robert Ford, no longer trusts Syrian rebel groups because they collaborate with jihadist groups

Apr 30: Reuters notes U.S.-armed FSA units in northern Syria allied with Nusra Front

The farce of the “vetted moderate” groups in league with these terrorist groups is a topic I have reported on here at PJ Media for more than a year, including the blowback of heavy weapons provided by the U.S. to these “vetted moderate” groups ending up in the hands of terrorists:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It should come as no surprise then that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that the U.S. has only trained 60 rebel fighters for its $500 million anti-ISIS force (about $4 million per fighter, with half of the budgeted amount already obligated). He blamed the strict vetting system they have implemented.

But what vetting system was the Obama administration using when they supposedly vetted the Syrian rebel groups that are now fighting with al-Nusra and ISIS? Will anyone inside the administration be held accountable for this debacle? Is anyone in Congress paying attention?