US-Backed Rebels Surrender to a United ISIS-Nusra

US-Backed Rebels Surrender Arms, Bases to al-Qaeda

The Obama Administration continues to insist that its strategy in Syria is “working,” but the setbacks on the ground are growing more dramatic by the day, and the Syrian Revolutionary Front, one of the largest “vetted, moderate” US-backed rebel forces, has been effectively wiped out.

The Revolutionary Front was routed by both ISIS and al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra in recent days, and has now surrendered outright after the fall of Deir Sinbal, agreeing to hand over all their weapons and bases to Nusra.

Those weapons, it should be made clear, include US-provided anti-tank missiles and GRAD rockets, and adds to the sizable cache of American weapons now in the hands of US enemies in Syria.

Nusra and ISIS had been at odds for most of the year going into the US war, but the administration’s decision to attack the both of them has driven them into a growing coordination, and turned the already massive ISIS into an even bigger group with even more international contacts.

The US had been backing groups like the Revolutionary Front with an eye toward eventually installing them as the new Syrian government, but even with US and GCC bankrolling, they never grew beyond comparatively small factions within the overall, Islamist-dominated rebellion.

That didn’t stop the US from throwing larger amounts of more advanced weaponry at them, despite it being fairly obvious that either ISIS or Nusra could take them out at any time.

There wasn’t much need for ISIS or Nusra to do so until the US expanded its war into Syria in September, and that made US allies on the ground huge targets for enemies they were not able to defeat.

The administration will no doubt downplay the defeat of the Revolutionary Front, having distanced themselves from the existing moderate factions with an eye toward eventually creating their own rebel group.

Yet the same problems loom large if and when that new group is created, as it will presumably be made up of recruits from the same feckless fighting forces, and awash in the same US armaments that didn’t work this time.

The US policy of throwing weapons and funds at such factions has not only failed, it has failed spectacularly, giving ISIS and Nusra a steady stream of advanced weapons to loot from smaller forces.

Not only has the administration clearly not learned that lesson, but the plan to create a new rebel force seems destined to repeat it, on an even larger scale.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.