Late last month, the first US-trained rebels from a group called “Division 30,” also called the New Syrian Forces (NSF) by US officials, arrived in northern Syria. The faction is the result of hundreds of millions of dollars in US spending to create a new force, but amounted to only 54 people. It’s getting progressively smaller.
Almost immediately after arriving, the rebels ran afoul of Syrian al-Qaeda faction Jabhat al-Nusra, who captured between eight and 18 of them. Not long thereafter, more fighting left one of the NSF dead, and today al-Qaeda is confirmed to have captured another 5 fighters.
Losing a few fighters here or there would normally be seen as “acceptable losses,” but with only 54 rebels to start with, there could be as few as 30 of the NSF fighters even left in the field, depending on just how many have actually been taken by al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda issued a statement on Friday confirming the first round of detentions, warning that rebels should abandon any training and cooperation with the US. Despite confirmation of captures from multiple sources, the Pentagon so far denies anyone was captured.